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The Up-Front on Bumper Extensions

Two (2) 150-feet rolled preconnected hose storage well and front-bumper suction inlet with hose storage.

By Ryan Slane, KME pumper and tanker product manager

Each community’s fire service needs impactful new apparatus design specifications, and one part of the truck where innovations are possible is the front bumper. For quite some time now, discharges, suctions (intakes), and siren options have been available on extensions as narrow as six inches. But today, specifications that call for bumper extensions of 24 inches or more are not uncommon in the fire service. Keep these tips in mind when it comes to a bumper extension for your next apparatus specification.

Consider the Operating Environment
In established urban areas, streets and intersections can be narrower than those found in suburban areas and towns. An increased extension could inhibit the truck’s maneuverability on the district’s roadways, so the angle of approach may be an important consideration. In districts with wider roadways, equipment and tool storage in an extended bumper improves capability without limiting maneuverability, so a specification may include a bumper that could be as deep as 30 inches. However, keep in mind that new apparatus with extended bumpers must still meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirements for angle of approach, apparatus length, wall-to-wall and curb-to-curb turning radii, and weight distribution.

Consider the Possibilities
If you’ve got the available room, there are a number of creative ways to use the space while increasing firefighter safety.

Suctions and Discharges: Trucks equipped with front bumper suctions and discharges enable operators to work the on the fireground from a “safe area” in front of the cab and away from traffic running parallel to the truck’s parked position on narrower urban roadways.

When designing front-bumper discharge hose storage, the fire department needs to determine the length of the hose, which could range from 50 to 200 feet. The hose can be stored with flat load or rolled storage depending on fire department’s requirements. Manufacturers can provide front-bumper suction inlets with a chicksan swivel adapter above the front bumper gravel shield that would provide 180-degree rotation of the suction inlet. Or, a department can request that the inlet be located in a hose storage well that would include a preconnected hose.

Rescue and Extrication Tools: Firefighter safety is also a key benefit of bumper rescue and extrication tool storage. Stopping directly in front of or behind the incident and working from that safe area minimizes personnel exposure to traffic in busy, multiple-lane roadways. With preconnected rescue tools stored in the front bumper, this allows for rapid deployment at traffic incidents. This, along with proper positioning of the apparatus, creates a safe working area to deploy the rescue tools quickly and efficiently.

Receivers and Winches: Does the department require storage for a fixed, mounted winch or a receiver mount for a portable winch? The front bumper is an excellent location for mounting these components. The bumper-mounted winch is located between the chassis frame rails, or the portable winch receiver can be located below the front bumper. The winch receiver point can also serve as rope tie-off point.

Be Practical
Sometimes positioning an item in the bumper seems like a good idea but causes headaches down the road. For example, some departments have requested the front-bumper discharge to terminate inside the hose storage well. However when the hoseline is charged at low operating pressures, the hose can kink, decreasing the pressure. Locating a booster reel inside the front bumper may seem like a great alternative to placement in an already crowded dunnage area, but this may significantly decrease the angle of approach if its compartment must be located low enough for it to fit. Locating the reel too high in the bumper may cause the reel to interfere with the cab’s ability to tilt forward fully for maintenance and scheduled mechanical service.

Work closely with your sales representatives on the options that are important to your department. They’ll contact the factory’s engineering division to ensure that your bumper storage options will work for the immediate need and long-term ergonomics, safety, and serviceability.

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