Remote-control nozzle helped Omaha firefighters battle blaze at Nox-Crete | Local News


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The three-alarm fire at Nox-Crete a week ago took thousands of gallons of water, at least 50 firefighters and a full night of tireless work to get under control.

But fire crews had additional help from a high-tech gadget: a remote-control nozzle attached to the top of a 105-foot aerial ladder.

Five firetrucks in the Omaha Fire Department fleet are equipped with this technology, which allows firefighters to operate the ladder and hose from the ground. This serves the dual purpose of keeping firefighters safe and allowing them to get the best vantage point.

“It helps so that we can actually walk around the truck and look at where the optimal place would be for the nozzle to hit,” Battalion Chief Scott Fitzpatrick said.

From the hand-held controller, firefighters can extend and retract the ladder, control the direction of the nozzle, turn the water flow on and off and even adjust the water’s spray pattern without stepping foot on the rig.

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In a fire like the one at Nox-Crete, a tool like this can be particularly helpful. Firefighters typically need to reach the tip of the ladder to get a good view of a fire, as the view from above often reveals the location of hot spots.

Last week’s fire was not typical.

“This fire was a little different, because you can see everything from the ground,” Fitzpatrick said.

The chemical storage warehouse owned by manufacturing company Nox-Crete went up in flames on the evening of Memorial Day, sending a plume of black smoke across the city and leading officials to recommend evacuations of nearby neighborhoods.

Although it wasn’t the largest fire in recent years — that designation belongs to a four-alarm fire at an under-construction retirement home in April — Fitzpatrick said it was certainly the most jarring to witness. Neighbors reported a series of explosions as flames crept into the sky at various points.

No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

By lita