There are a variety of ways you can make use out of all available space on your next fire apparatus. Although it can seem daunting, one of the best ways to see what’s available is to see what fire companies with new apparatus are doing as well as working closely with the salesperson and apparatus manufcturer. Take a look at this gallery for some innovaitve ways departments have made use of the space on their rigs.
By Ricky Riley
In the past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to visit some fire apparatus manufacturing facilities and see a number of finished and unfinished units on the production floor. With the demands on our service to be able to handle a multitude of emergencies each day, one of the things I have witnessed is that customers are not using all the available space on their rigs. This could be from not using all the available room and dead space on their manufactured units to not knowing equipment mounting ideas and how to make efficient use of all the room in compartments and flat surfaces.
When at your engineering conference or sitting with your salesperson going over your prints, look at any ingenious ways to store your equipment. Think about where the fire extinguishers are going to go while you are picking out motors and lighting options at the pre-build. As covered before, these bulky items can eat into compartment room and push you to make operational decisions around placing a required piece of equipment into an area where a more essential tool (or equipment) could be more efficiently stored.
Fire Truck designers can assist you in finding the space you need to store that one item or tool and most of the time let you know if it will fit and if it is going to be a practical location. In the example used above about fire extinguishers, these items take up room in much needed compartment areas. We found a number of improved storage techniques while working with designers and looking at finished rigs. One of those ways is by making use of space in the cab area below the rear seating and outside of the frame rail. This department chose to place a compartment there to store the dry chemical extinguisher on one side and the water can on the other. By knowing the dimensions of each extinguisher and the bracket needed to hold them, the manufacturer was able to design a compartment to fit both of them nicely. Another idea is to store extinguishers in the wheel-well area like we often store our spare SCBA bottles.
An additional storage option would be to use the dunnage area above the fire pump. This area is used a lot for warehousing bulky equipment and tools that are not often used. A number of departments are now making use of this area by creating a compartment that is accessible from the officer-side pump-panel area. By creating this compartment departments can store items that are the width of the apparatus and have them easily removable from this compartment without having to climb up the side of the truck to retrieve them. Once again, using the space afforded to them in their rig to have maximum storage.
Designing these user-friendly storage areas outside the normal compartments on your rig is a great way to store equipment, and it makes maximum use of your rig’s square footage. But as I have always reminded you, this does come with a financial cost. So if you do not have the money to make those design changes, another way to make use of all your space is by thinking about how to store your equipment in a space-saving way. This usually would come from looking at completely outfitted apparatus and seeing what your neighbors have done or by consulting with your salesperson’s shop personnel and third-party equipment mounting businesses. Many of these shops and businesses have very talented fabricators and design specialists who have mounted all types of equipment in varying sizes and configurations. One of the companies that I always look at for ideas is First Due Apparatus Solutions. These gentlemen find great ways to mount, store, and fit all your equipment on even the most complex and equipment-laden apparatus, maximizing the use of your purchased space.
So to wrap this up, I am urging you to plan out your apparatus for all the equipment you want to carry, then take that to your apparatus salesperson, and then to the company that is going to build your rig. Work with them to find ways to get it all on board and for it to work operationally for your department. Please make use of not only compartment ideas but also mounting techniques to ensure you have made the maximum use of all the purchased possible storage areas on your new rig. USE ALL THE SPACE.
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.