The vehicle in Martiricos on Wednesday before passing its ITV. However the ladder hydraulics "leak oil", according to a fire union representative. SUR
Malaga fire brigade's biggest turntable ladder, which can reach a height of 13 storeys, is out of action again
Fire safety

Malaga fire brigade's biggest turntable ladder, which can reach a height of 13 storeys, is out of action again

Firefighters fear the consequences should a major fire break out in a block of flats in a city with around 1,200 buildings of 10 floors or rmore

Chus Heredia


Friday, 8 March 2024, 19:01


After last month’s horrific fire in Valencia that claimed many lives, the minds of Malaga city residents are once again focused on building safety and the readiness of the fire brigade in the event of such a blaze as happened in April 2017 when an inferno led to a death in a 15-storey block of flats in Ciudad Jardín. Then, like now, the fire brigade's essential high-reach turntable ladders were out of service.

The umpteenth breakdown of the city's 42-metre-long ladder was revealed by city council for Safety, Avelino Barrionuevo, during an interview on the 101 TV La Alameda programme, hosted by the editor-in-chief of SUR, Manolo Castillo. The council department in question told SUR that the serious problem has not been resolved and, furthermore, there is no temporary replacement for this vital, life-saving piece of equipment.

The vehicle that carries the 42-metre-long ladder was purchased 19 years ago and has been hit with a series of technical problems for three consecutive years. Its extendable turntable ladder allows firefighters to reach a height of up to 13 storeys.

Spokesperson for the Andalusian firefighters union (Sindicato Andaluz de Bomberos), Pedro Pacheco, told SUR that the situation "is a matter of cost. We are considering taking the matter to court. The acquisition and maintenance of vehicles and equipment has plummeted". The union also pointed out that maintenance of the vehicles are carried out by the fire service and not by specialised technicians.

"We have a clear reliability problem when working on high-altitude rescues," said the union representative who explained that the vehicle had recently passed its ITV, and it is the mechanical arm that is the problem: "It is leaking oil again."

The firefighters should have a fleet of five vehicles at their disposal for high-altitude operations in Malaga city, as well as the out-of-action 42-metre ladder. The three others have ladders 32-metres long (but one is damaged), and another with a range of 20 metres.

Regarding the latter, Pacheco said that this vehicle is ideal for operations in the heart of the city centre yet, that too, is not currently available.

The concern for firefighters is not only the tall tower blocks that are springing up throughout the city (Martiricos, Térmica, Teatinos, Flex, Princesa, Torre del Río, Siemens, Repsol, Camino de San Rafael, Bulto, Nereo...), but also the older tall buildings.

And what happens in other cities? Pacheco explained that Madrid has a turntable ladder that can reach up to 70 metres and they have others 56-metres long. "A big city like Malaga must invest in one that is taller. Response times are essential. Any life we ​​can save by having better equipment justifies the investment," he added.

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