By Ricky Riley
A new option we have seen recently on a number of rigs delivered to Maryland and Delaware is a floating bin or tray. There’s been an increase in companies using the front bumper to store attack lines instead of using crosslays/mattydales. This provides the operational option to pull short of the house or building and stretch from the bumper, leaving the precious room in front of the structure for the truck company.
This option requires the bin or tray to hold anywhere between 100 to 200 feet of attack line. The result is an increase in the size of the bin across the top of the bumper and also the depth it extends down toward the ground. This creates clearance issues while approaching and departing from entrances with greater angles than the norm. In the past, these bins were bolted or welded to the bumper decking and would become damaged if they came in contact with the curb or pavement.
To help prevent damage to the bins, companies would mount tow hooks or tow eyes to the bottom of the frame rails extending down to hopefully have them hit the surface first to alert the driver they were getting close to the bins and to approach at a different angle. These did work, but usually had to be a straight-on approach or departure to protect the bins. When the bins did make contact with the surface or curbs, they caused damage to the bins, the decking they were bolted to, and the upper surface of the bin.
To help alleviate damage to the front and side bins that store attack lines or the supply hose, departments went to the apparatus builders looking for some help. They came away with the option of creating floating bins and trays. These bins and trays are not bolted to the surface they rest in but are made to fit in a notched-out space. With this option, when the bin comes in contact with a surface, it moves up and does not cause any damage. After the contact, it normally goes right back down in the same space. This design option has lessened some of the damage caused by low hanging bins on new apparatus.
By having this improved design, it should in no way shape or form limit companies from getting out and knowing their response areas. The crews should know where there is an issue with clearance in the approach or departure from their streets, apartment entrances, and rear accesses. So, get out of the firehouse, ride your area, and learn them all!
The popularity of this feature illustrates the benefit of having a good relationship with your apparatus manufacturers. When they understand your operational concerns, they can work to find a solution for your department and your apparatus to help lower repair costs while operating in your response districts. Keep the lines of communication open and ask them questions.
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.