If you're downtown on a quiet Sunday morning this spring and summer, don't be alarmed if fire trucks block a street and a monster ladder truck drops stabilizing posts.

In fact, you might be amazed as firefighters work the controls to raise the 100-foot ladder of the newest mechanical member of the Casper Fire-EMS Department.

"It's a beautiful piece of equipment," said Casper Fire-EMS spokesman Craig Kidder.

Sunday, customers at Jacquie's Bistro on East Second Street had front-row seats as they watched the $1.2 million Spartan Gladiator ladder truck -- purchased with optional one-cent sales tax revenues -- get a workout.

"Our guys are getting out and getting hands on with it, getting on the ladder, getting familiar with the hydraulic operations of the new truck," Kidder said.

Old buildings in downtowns across the country often have spaces between them or they share common walls, which can make firefighting difficult, he said.

"Fortunately here in Casper, we don't have a space in our downtown," he said. "We like to stay up on getting to the roofs of these buildings, and be prepared if there is a fire or a rescue downtown."

As an additional benefit, Kidder said the truck is good for property owners downtown because insurance companies like the added protection, which in turn can lower insurance rates.

The truck and its retractable ladder with its rescue basket is the latest in firefighting technology, he said. "It gives our guys the opportunity to do a really great job for our community. It gives us that extra level of performance that some towns don't have."

KIdder himself was the point man for the exercise on Sunday. He stood in the basket as operators at the base of the ladder worked the controls below to maneuver him to the roof of Lou Taubert's Ranch Outfitters. The building's front, like many downtown, rises above the roof, so Kidder was practicing how to place a smaller ladder that would rest on the roof and lean toward the top of the false front.

Besides giving firefighters a way to shoot a stream of water down on flames, he said the basket can be used to rescue people trapped in a burning building.

"Were trying to be ready for anything; we work really hard in representing our community and being part of our community," Kidder said. "This is our family and we want to be there for them when they need us."