By Debbie Adams
Roanoke County Fire & Rescue held a Driver Aerial Operator Class for its 105-foot ladder truck
at Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Vinton on Nov. 16.
Master Paramedic Kaleb Schatz led the class, along with Field Training Officer Kelly Stoots,
Master Paramedic Matthew Ferris, and Paramedic/Firefighter William Crumpacker.
Participants included Paramedic/Firefighters Ryan Lanning, Brenton Christian, James Slater,
Nick Walker, and Lt. Justin Ratcliff. All are employees of Roanoke County Fire & Rescue, from
various stations throughout the county.
According to Brian Clingenpeel, Community Outreach Coordinator for Roanoke County Fire &
Rescue, Driver Aerial Operator Training is “an in-depth training for those who will be driving
and operating ladder trucks. It involves setting up the truck, moving the ladder, positioning the
truck, and even some basic maintenance of the truck.”
The training includes classroom portions, but also practical skill learning, which is what the
firefighters were doing at Rosie’s.
According to Schatz, Rosie’s is the tallest structure in Vinton and offers unique opportunities and
challenges for training with its parking garage and “some tight spaces.”
The class began early in the morning (7:30 a.m.), before regular business hours and was mainly
behind the building so that it did not impede normal operations.
Clingenpeel said the previous week the class used the abandoned Allstate building on North
Electric Road at Loch Haven for training.
All of the instructors emphasized that ladder trucks aren’t just used for getting to the roofs of tall
buildings – although class members did practice extending the ladder to the top of the fourth
floor parking garage roof at Rosie’s. The ladder truck used on Nov. 15 has a reach of 105 feet
horizontally and vertically.
The ladder truck is a great resource in many situations, providing more than just height. Besides
potentially rescuing people above the reach of ground ladders, ladder trucks are useful in unique
settings, such as providing elevated horizontal reach to buildings where road access and terrain
create problems. It can assist EMS crews and can reach homes or other buildings set back from
According to Ferris, ladder trucks can be used in a variety of circumstances, including parking
garage rescues should vehicles or equipment catch on fire, water rescues, and low angle rescues
(for example. a rescue below a bridge where the ladder would actually be pointed way down
instead of up).
Crumpacker noted that the Driver Aerial Training allows operators to practice different scenarios
and learn to adjust for slope/grade/incline. At Rosie’s, the class practiced basic ladder truck
operations such as stabilization, positioning, and tactics used on the scene.
Roanoke County Fire & Rescue will be receiving two additional ladder trucks in the next few
weeks for a total of four. (Not every station is equipped with one.)
According to Rosie’s General Manager Todd Lear and Marketing Director Jeff Spaugh, Rosie’s
was more than happy for fire and rescue to use their facility for training.
One of the company’s goals is to “meaningfully improve the quality of life in the communities
where they work and live.”
In its time in Vinton, Rosie’s has shown itself to be community-spirited and always willing to
contribute to a good cause, often financially with donations to local organizations, through
providing employee volunteers at community events, and this time, including use of its space.
(Rosie’s also offers $5 meals to first responders every Thursday from Rosie’s Kitchen.)