Fire department looks to extend its reach |

Fire department looks to extend its reach

The Aspen Fire Protection District will look for a longer ladder when it replaces its aerial truck in a few years. Aspen TImes photo/Mark Fox.

The Aspen Fire Protection District wants to extend its reach.When the fire department goes shopping for a new ladder truck, it will be looking for something that ensures firefighters will be able to reach up and over all the new, big buildings going up around town.

“The aerial truck in the fire department’s fleet is nearing the end of its useful life and is due for replacement,” Fire Chief Darryl Grob said. It has been in use for the 25 years Grob has been with the department and was purchased, used, from Phoenix because Aspen needed something to reach the top of its tallest structure.”Specifically, to access the top of the Wheeler Opera House, which at that time was the tallest building in town,” Grob said.The Wheeler, topping out at 66 feet, remains Aspen’s tallest building, but a number of new, large hotels that are either planned, being built or are soon to begin construction, dictate the need for more reach when the department replaces its ladder truck.

The department will probably look at an aerial truck with an articulated arm that can stretch some 105 feet, with a box-like platform at the end where firefighters can perch, Grob said. “It’s geometry. Given where you are able to put the truck, it may take that length to reach up and over,” he said. “The intent is to replace it with something that reflects the evolving downtown.”The planned Residences at Little Nell, for example, won’t be nearly as tall as the Wheeler, but the hotel will step up the lower slopes of Aspen Mountain from Dean Street. Construction is expected to start this spring.

The purchase of the new truck is still a few years away, Grob said. He estimates the apparatus will cost roughly $1 million.Replacement of the aerial truck is likely to be rolled in with an upgrade in department facilities, he said. The department is currently exploring options to build a new downtown fire station, upgrade its existing headquarters or build a new ancillary station at the Aspen Business Center.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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