Thanks to a large federal grant, the entire has spent the last several days training to use aerial ladders.
The grant, worth $100,000, was awarded jointly to the Reading and Wakefield Fire Department from the Department of Homeland Security. It pays for three different training modules for the Reading, Wakefield, Melrose and Wilmington Fire Departments to learn the ins and outs and controls of the large high-powered ladders on fire engines.
Firefighters had to use the ladder to drop a small-sized bucket into a larger trash can on the roof of a building and on the ground level.
Michael Wilbur, a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department, ran the eight day course for the four fire departments behind the on Walker's Brook Drive in Reading.
"The point is to become familliar with the controls and get experience with hydraulic ladders," he said. "We go over things like line of sight, hand/eye coodination and depth perception."
Wilbur said firefighters without experience in controlling the ladder can do some serious damage, to builidngs, or to the ladder itself.
"You can't put someone up there in a million dollar ladder who doesn't know what he's doing," he said. "They've got to learn to feather the controls."