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Traditional or Flat Off the Rear?

By Ricky Riley

The crosslay or Mattydale has been a staple for the fire service as a design to allow the rapid deployment of attack lines on fire scenes. It is a standard option on almost every engine that is made, and the exception is when departments choose not to have it on their apparatus. We talked about deleting crosslays in a previous article to increase storage space. What we did not discuss is where to put these attack lines if we are not going to use them off the side.

A majority of customers that delete crosslays choose to run the lines off the rear of the apparatus. This is a good option as long as the department takes the time to design and specify a rear end of the apparatus that allows for ergonomic pulling and extending of these lines and then allows for easily re-racking the lines without having to be an acrobat holding onto the back of the rig while doing it.

The traditional rear step is rather large and can accommodate the firefighter rather easily. This is usually done with a large rear tail-step that is supported by the beavertails on the rear of the apparatus. This also, by design, causes the hosebed to sit back along the back part of the rear step—20 to 30 inches at times. Though great for re-racking lines, this design makes the firefighter in full PPE and SCBA have to climb up on the rear step to reach the attack lines. He will then have to climb back down with the shoulder load now. This is not a very efficient operation and not good for our firefighters to be moving up and down with all the weight and hose.

As companies move to the rear attack lines, the design of the flat back in the rear has started to take hold. This encompasses moving the rear wall all the way out to the edge of the tailboard. The tailboard width is custom designed by the department, which has seen as little as four inches to 15 to 20 inches added to facilitate standing on the step to repack the hose. This flatback design coupled with a low hosebed enhances the hose operation by allowing firefighters to stand on the ground and remove attack lines without having to climb up on the step or reach out far from their body to bring the hose to their shoulders.

The design is an important one even if you still have crosslays and just have one or two lines off the rear. This feature enhances the fireground operation with speed and ease of deployment of these lines. Using these features for the enhanced operation on the fireground needs to be the base of any design change or option choice.

Once the operational portion of this option is complete, remember that we have to rack the hose back on. We should also ensure that firefighters can rack all the lines back on by easily climbing up into the hosebed and standing on the rear step if necessary—another design question that needs to be posed to the firefighters that actually rack the hose. See where we need to put steps, extend the tailboard, or put handholds to allow the operation to be smooth and without putting our firefighters in crazy positions to facilitate racking the hose.

One last feature we can add to the rear tailboard to assist the driver is to angle in the edges of the tailboard to help with rear step swingout when making turns—just one more thing to make this design helpful for all those riding the rig.

Thanks again for taking the time to stop in and reading “The RIG.”

RICKY RILEY is the fire apparatus manager for the Prince George’s County (MD) Fire/EMS Department. He previously served as the Operations Chief in Clearwater, Florida, and as a firefighter for Fairfax County (VA) Fire & Rescue. He also currently serves as the rescue-engine captain at the Kentland (MD) Volunteer Fire Department. He is a member of the editorial advisory board of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment.

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