A physics nerd's take on technical rescue.

With an uneasy creak, the spools began to move.

The chains could be heard pinging as they tightened and eventually held fast—little by little, the heavy wrecker began to lift the mammoth monolith of masonry that lay before us in a jungle of weathered stone and twisted rebar.

Yes, it’s drill time again; however, instead of going down into a trench, we’re going up in the air. E15′s collapse drill focused on shoring up ceilings, breaching concrete, and using our behemoth of a heavy rescue crane/wrecker to elevate the chunks of concrete that are piled haphazardly behind the Training Academy.

I have not yet attended the Collapse Rescue class that is afforded members of my firehouse; however, I have always found the physics principles that are inherent in technical rescue fascinating.

That’s right. I’m a classical physics and engineering mechanics dork at heart. Reading about formulas put together by the Army Corps of Engineers is one thing, but applying them in a real-world situation and seeing the results happen in front of you is entirely another.

Today was certainly no exception to my eager thirst for geeky science stuff; pictures, as always, can be clicked for a larger size.

Our concrete jungle, complete with… all sorts of junk.

The big bad boy wrecker. The boom itself is rated for 60 tons, and each of the two cable spools is rated for 16,400 lbs.

Rigging our strangely-shaped concrete tube of choice.

The Captain looks on…

Success! Yes, this is what I did at work today. I love my job.


  • Patricia McCarty says:

    Love it!

  • dick says:

    “…using our behemoth of a heavy rescue crane…”

    Nice creative license, but I’m pretty sure the wrecker is not assigned to any company in your firehouse.

    • raisingladders says:

      Technically you’re right; “our” was simply a reference to the fact that it belongs to the department (which I would hope is made painfully obvious by the pictures. We all like the pretty pictures, don’t we?)

      Attention to detail is appreciated, pedantry is not. But thanks anyway!

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Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic

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