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The Rig: Using Dead Space

By Ricky Riley

This month I’m taking a look at the area behind the crew cab doors on a number of fire apparatus. For some time, this space has gone unused, thus being wasted space on your apparatus. More recently, fire apparatus manufacturers have come up with new storage solutions—this has helped accommodate many items that would normally take up that ever precious compartment room.

Depending on your cab configuration, cab extensions, and seating arrangements, your department could have a number of options for storage behind the crew cab doors. This area can hold a number of items that would otherwise take up long spaces on the rig or short and squatty things that eat up floor space in compartments.

In this example (left), the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department used the space to install a compartment to hold a water can on one side and possibly another extinguisher on the other side. With all the space requirements on this hybrid rescue-engine, any additional space is sorely needed and much appreciated.


Kentland chose to put a door on this compartment to protect the equipment inside and to stop the collection of road dirt in the compartment. I’ve also seen a number of departments that leave this area open for quick access to the extinguisher. This is just another option for you and your apparatus committee to discuss and determine what is best for your department.







I mentioned the cab extension, and this is another place that provides space behind the cab for extra storage room. It allows for a lower storage area and cross storage space if the design will allow. Being able to store long equipment here frees up room in the body compartments or on the sides of the rig. This storage option across the cab will depend on the forward-facing seating configuration that you choose and possibly the heater location, which on a number of rigs is underneath the forward-facing center seats. Your apparatus manufacturer’s designers will be able to answer these kind questions when you go for your engineering trip.





Adding this compartment can and will increase your storage space. If you also take the time to design the compartment with the input of experts who mount equipment or fabricate tool mounts, this compartment can store a lot of the equipment needed quickly on incident scenes. You just need to plan it out and use your imagination.

In this example, the compartment is crammed with all the tools a forcible entry person needs to do his job. Just a quick exit out of the cab, and this is the first compartment that they will come to, thus making their number of movements and steps reduced as they quickly gather their gear and move to their tasks on the fireground.

So, take a look at your rig’s cab that is sitting out in your apparatus bay and see if there is some dead space you didn’t take advantage of when it was built. Then make some notes for yourself and your department’s apparatus committee for future purchases. Using this space will enhance your storage capabilities and possibly improve your fireground efficiency if it is designed correctly.

Thanks for reading another article from The Rig.




RICKY RILEY is operations chief for the Clearwater (FL) Fire & Rescue and a member of the Kentland (MD) Volunteer Fire Department, where he served as chief of department. He also served for 20 years with the Fairfax County (VA) Fire & Rescue before his retirement in 2005. He is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board.

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