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How to best configure your apparatus storage
Proper planning and the right hardware can result in better utilization of the apparatus compartment space
By Robert Avsec
The most important piece of equipment for any fire department is the fire apparatus in the department’s fleet. Without it, how would firefighters get to the emergency? How would they function without the tools carried on the apparatus?
The mission scope for many fire departments has expanded greatly beyond simply fire suppression. In addition to traditional duties, there are emergency medical services, hazmat cleanup and technical rescue. These additional services require an increased amount of supplies and tools, including protection for firefighters, such as equipment for gross decontamination following structural firefighting. In this article, you’ll learn how to get the most out of the available compartment space on your fire apparatus.
Calculate how much space you need for necessary equipment
The Fire Apparatus Equipment Weight and Cube Calculator spreadsheet provided by the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers Association provides estimated weights and volumes in cubic inches for typical pieces of fire service equipment so that you can calculate the total weight of your equipment and pre-determine the total compartment volume needed to store it all. If you’re specing a new piece of fire apparatus, this information will assist you as you work with your apparatus manufacturer to design a truck that will hold all needed equipment.
If you’re reengineering a current piece of apparatus, this information can save time as you calculate what equipment should stay in each compartment and which pieces need to be moved to a different location.
Factor in tool and equipment storage to space needs
NFPA 1901: Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus specifies that equipment holders or compartments shall be provided for all tools, equipment and other items that are on the apparatus. Tool holders must be attached and be capable of keeping equipment in place under all vehicle operating conditions, including a motor vehicle crash.
NFPA 1901 also gives specific guidance and direction for securing equipment in fire apparatus crew compartments. In Chapter 14: Driving and Crew Areas, the technical committee for NFPA 1901 provides specific requirements for the proper and secure storage of self-contained breathing apparatus units, firefighter helmets and tools.
Fire departments should check the total weight of each SCBA unit to ensure it doesn’t exceed the manufacturer’s listed rating for their SCBA holder or bracket. This is especially pertinent if you’ve acquired newer models of SCBA since the fire apparatus was put into service.
Most people will be familiar with requirements for securing SCBA units and tools within the crew compartment, but not with the requirement for securing helmets.
The NFPA 1901 states that “fire helmets shall not be worn by persons riding in enclosed driving and crew areas. Fire helmets are not designed for crash protection and they will interfere with the protection provided by head rests. A location for helmet storage shall be provided. If helmets are to be stored in the driving or crew compartment, the helmets shall be secured according to section 188.8.131.52.”
Securing and storing firefighter tools in the crew compartment
Fire departments should limit the tools stored in the crew compartment to only those absolutely required to be there. Serious evaluation should be given to the degree of necessity – rather than convenience – when deciding what tools and equipment are carried in the crew cab. This is vitally important for any sharp or pointed objects, such as Halligan tools, axes and closet hooks, as these types of tools can become dangerous projectiles in a motor vehicle crash.
All tools and equipment should be secured in the crew compartment using tool mounts that provide security against multi-directional forces. NFPA 1901 states that “all equipment carried in the cab must be enclosed in a latched compartment capable of withstanding a longitudinal 9-G force, and a 3-G force in any other direction.” Many fire service equipment manufacturers have put a great deal of research, development and testing into tool security hardware that are up to the challenge.
Fire departments should comply with the requirements of NFPA 1901 when it comes to mounting equipment and making the most of your available compartment space. Proper planning and the right hardware can result in better utilization of the compartment space, better security for tools and equipment and an increased level of safety for your firefighters.