Definition - What does Hydraulic Platform mean?
A hydraulic platform is a type of large appliance that is attached to some fire trucks. It is comprised of a crane with a caged platform at the end, and it is used to rescue those trapped at significant heights. Hydraulic platforms may extend to more than 90 m (~300 ft) in length, and they often include fire hose reel attachments that allow them to direct water at fires from height.
Hydraulic platforms are one of two types of aerial apparatuses used in firefighting—the other being the aerial ladder. Aerial ladders are similar to hydraulic platforms but lack any sort of basket or standing surface. A hydraulic firefighting platform must be built and used in compliance with both general work-at-height standards (e.g., ANSI boom crane standards), as well as firefighting specific standards (e.g., NFPA standards).
Safeopedia explains Hydraulic Platform
The use of aerial devices is an integral part of many firefighting operations. Due to the high risk associated with firefighting, these devices must conform to recognized quality standards that guarantee a certain level of reliability in adverse environmental conditions (e.g., high heat, impact). In the United States, hydraulic platforms are expected to meet the criteria laid out in NFPA standard 1901, while in Europe they must conform to standard EN 1777.
A hydraulic platform is not necessarily better or worse than a straight ladder, and many firefighting teams prefer one over the other. Still, the two types of appliances offer somewhat different capabilities. Ladders are typically more maneuverable than platforms; however, platforms are equipped with water-pumping systems that enable them to release more gallons per minute than ladder pumps are capable of providing. Moreover, hydraulic pumps can facilitate an “easier” rescue, as they can carry a larger payload and may be accessed more easily by those needing to be rescued.
Hydraulic platforms are a type of aerial lift, and they expose workers to the various dangers associated with work at height. These include a risk of falls, the platform tipping, and entanglement/crushing by an object or structure at height, such as power cables or a building surface. Although firefighting is an inherently high-risk profession that places unique demands on its workers, regular occupational health and safety regulations for work at height—such as OSHA 29 CFR 1926.501—still apply and must be followed by firefighters.
Many occupational health and safety authorities, such as the Canadian province of British Columbia, also publish specific regulations for firefighting at height. These are designed to accommodate the specific hazards and operational needs of firefighters, and they supersede normal/general industry safety-at-height regulations that cover the same scenarios.