For those of you out there who are contemplating the process of writing specs for a new fire apparatus, one of the most overlooked areas of concern is tool mounting in compartments. Proper planning is definitely needed to ensure that you design a vehicle with proper tool assignment and mounting. This is more important in a heavy rescue than any other type of vehicle because you will carry more weight and a diverse variety of tools.
That’s not to say that tool placement in an engine or ladder is not important as well. The first step you need to take is to make a list of the type and number of tools that you plan on carrying on each type of vehicle. How the vehicle will be used is another consideration. We are seeing more multipurpose vehicles being purchased such as squad or rescue engines and quints to name a few. These types of vehicles are designed to accomplish different goals on the fireground and will definitely carry more equipment in addition to the usual compliment of hose, water, and ladders. Hence, weight becomes a factor.
While these types of vehicles serve a specific purpose on the fireground, you need to take into consideration the type and number of different tools mounted. Having a vehicle that is overweight will only cause more problems responding to the emergency scene.
How can you solve this problem, while it may take some additional planning, is really not that complex. Go online to the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers Association’s Web site. There you can download a copy of a document that lists every conceivable fire service tool with its weight and dimensions.
By making a list of what you plan on carrying, you can designate a compartment to hold specific tools. You need to work with the apparatus manufacturers engineers to help plot this out to make sure you have the right axles for the weight and that you don’t exceed the gross vehicle weight of the truck you plan on purchasing.
Now comes another question: Will you have the local dealer or a department mechanic install and mount the equipment? There are also several apparatus manufacturers that do an excellent job of mounting equipment at their factory if you deliver existing equipment or order new. There are several fire industry companies that also sell various mounts for this process, should you try a do it yourself approach. ZICO, Sensible Products, Performance Advantage are a few that come to mind.
In any case, you need to preplan what you plan to carry and where to mount it well in advance of the apparatus purchase.
I have included some photos to illustrate some good ideas that some departments around the country have done.