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Beefing Up the Rear

By Ricky Riley

During a recent class on tower ladder operations in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, I was able to see an option that I had heard about but had never seen in person. The option was suggested to the department by the manufacturer that used the design for the FDNY—a leader in tower operations and knowing what works and doesn’t work on its apparatus. It gained this experience probably from ability to use trial and error with the sheer volume of calls. This option was designed to reduce damage to the rigs when there is a swing-out of the rear of the apparatus—especially on the midmount tower.

The FDNY designed a rub rail that protrudes from the side of the rear compartments on the apparatus. It is made to look like a black rub rail, which is normally just a hard rubber. But, this rub rail is actually painted steel, with reinforcement to the frame rails through a web design of steel. This option is designed to prevent damage to the body components that hang off the rear of these midmount units. I cannot speak for the FDNY, but I am sure that it has done some damage to rear body compartments when dealing with the swing-out on these units. This design hardens that area and prevents the damage that can come from even light incidental contact.

The training we completed with this company demonstrated the kick-out when making turns. The apparatus chauffer must always remember that the inches he turns to the left or right will translate into feet in the rear end. This option will help in case these distances are not estimated correctly or in case getting the rig in the right position requires some creative maneuvering as it might put some scrapes on the steel edge,but will not damage the compartment doors. The option was designed for the big city but is useful for any department that values its apparatus and proper positioning. We all would just like that the streets and alleys to be barren of cars and obstacles as we pull into the scene or go around corners. But, that is not even close to reality for big city departments and is certainly an up-and-coming issue for many suburban departments and even some rural organizations. With some of the compartment sizes that I see departments putting on engines and even heavy-duty rescue trucks, this might even be an option for them. So, take a look at this FDNY design and decide for yourself if it is applicable to your department and geographic response area.

Once again, thank you for 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 for Clearwater (FL) Fire and Rescue, 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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