By Ricky Riley
I recently did a Webcast with Senior Editor Chris Mc Loone concerning seating configurations in an apparatus cab. We talk a lot about the equipment that fire departments mount in apparatus cabs. The equipment that is allowed to be mounted in cabs in covered in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus. The standard is concerned about the ability of brackets, boxes, and hardware to sustain the effects of an accident that could produce enough G forces to dislodge equipment, causing it to come flying loose inside the crew area. These concerns also relate to the driver and officer area as we cram more and more stuff into that area also.
NFPA 1901 paragraph 188.8.131.52 states, “All equipment not required to be used during an emergency response, with the exception of SCBA units, shall not be mounted in a driving or crew area unless it is contained in a fully enclosed and latched compartment capable of containing the contents when a 9 g force is applied in the longitudinal axis of the vehicle or a 3 g force is applied in any other direction, or the equipment is mounted in a bracket(s) that can contain the equipment when the equipment is subjected to those same forces.”
This published standard should direct departments to ensure that the commercial bracketry or custom fabricated bracketry meet NFPA 1901 requirements for use in the crew or officer area of the cab. This will help protect the crew areas and the personnel riding up front from equipment that is deemed operationally needed for quick deployment from ejecting from the brackets or holders that we put in these areas.
With all that being said, I am a big fan of having this equipment ready for deployment and within quick reach of firefighters as they exit the cab or that the equipment is easily reachable from the ground by just opening the cab door. So, I recommend that as a department you do some research on the brackets that meet NFPA 1901 and can be used to meet your department’s operational requirements when mounting equipment or tools in the cab area.
Some examples of equipment being mounted in these areas follow.
Above is a set of irons mounted just inside the cab door using a commercially available bracket made by the Performance Advantage Company (PAC). This bracket comes with a certification that meets NFPA 1901. It securely holds the irons set in place, even in the case of an unfortunate apparatus accident. This bracket also now comes available for the use with larger striking tools other than the eight-pound flathead ax. It can now store, for example, the PIG tool out of Austin, Texas, which is starting to become popular in the forcible entry world.
Above is another example of that bracket done on a rig out of Mechanicsville, Maryland. Both these examples have the brackets bolted to the back wall of the cab. This is not truly a permanent mounting job—if you do want to move it later on, you will be left with some holes in the back wall that may not be reused.
One of the trends I see starting to catch on is using mounting plates or mounting tracks for the equipment. This unit, out of Ashburn, Virginia, uses this tracking to mount all the equipment that its crews see operationally necessary. The equipment is mounted directly to this track board and can be moved around and changed rather easily by using expansion joint hardware or by drilling right into the material. The track board can then be easily changed out if needed without adding anymore holes to the cab wall. This is a great option to add inside your cab. We never know when the winds of change will go through a department and this tool compliment will need to be changed.
The officer’s area of the cab can easily be cluttered with PPE, SCBA, tools for the officer, MDT, radios, map books, and thermal imagers. That list could go on and on. So, does each of these pieces of equipment have a stowed position in a bracket that meets NFPA 1901 on your apparatus?
It is just as important to not have equipment moving around the cab in this area as it is in the crew cab area. These possible projectile pieces of equipment can do a lot of damage to a human body in the event of an accident or rollover. Please take this into consideration when you start putting tools and equipment in the cab and crew areas.
Feel free to post pictures of what your department has mounted in your cabs on the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Twitter page @fireapparatus1
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.