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Fire departments lack ladder trucks to fight tall building fires

Date Posted: 2008-01-04

Fire departments across Okinawa lack essential fire fighting equipment to cope with blazes in tall buildings.

Four major municipalities—Okinawa City, Chatan Town, Kadena Town and Yomitan Village—have no direct means of battling a high rise building fire in their zones because none have ladder trucks capable of reaching higher floors of the buildings. Okinawa City has been asking for subsidy money to purchase a ladder truck, but Okinawa Prefecture hasn’t responded to the request.

Ladder fire trucks are expensive, with needed units running ¥200 million a piece. When Okinawa City has a large fire, it borrows a truck from neighboring Kitanakagusuku Village. Kadena, Yomitan and Chatan have a join Niraikanai Fire Station Headquarters to coordinate fire responses, but it, too, has no ladder truck.

Chatan Town has an 81 meter tall hotel building, but there’s not a single ladder truck available in event of an emergency. Chatan Town officials say they hope to get a ladder truck, possibly in late 2008 or in 2009.

Fire regulations require municipalities with ten or more 10-meters tall buildings to have a ladder truck. Fire regulators say if tall buildings catch fire, or pose human dangers, fire stations will seek help from a neighboring fire department. Current exchanges provide for pumper trucks or ladder trucks, but rules for using them are complex. There are fire station priorities that must be measured for fire trucks and also ambulances.

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