Micmac Fire & Safety Source Ltd. (MMFSS) introduces a new line of articles published monthly where our dedicated Truck Team will discuss Emergency Vehicle issues, topics and products.
Whether your Fire Department is ordering a pumper, tanker, heavy/light rescue or aerial truck there are a lot of factors to consider regarding truck design. It is easy to forget small items or sometimes even lose sight of the original purpose, or specific role, that truck was intended to serve. One of the most frequently overlooked items the MMFSS Truck Team notices is not outfitting a truck with proper compartment brackets, backing and holders for the equipment the truck carries. This article will briefly speak about outfitting your truck and why some thought (and budget) should be invested in this area.
Number 1: Safety.
Firefighter safety is important to us and you. The MMFSS Truck Team has seen a lot of trucks with axes, mauls and picks that have been stored loosely in a compartment above shoulder height; it does not take a lot of imagination to see the possible safety risks for firefighters associated with poor equipment storage. Take the time whether you are outfitting your truck with storage brackets/swingouts/holders or not to ensure that your life-saving equipment does not pose a source of risk to your own on-scene team.
Number 2: Mission efficiency.
If you can go to a call, use your tools and be successful in that operation then it is a good day for you and your community. If you cannot find a tool due to a cluttered compartment or have to take the time to search the truck for it then that can mean the difference between success and failure. If every tool on your truck is stowed and secured in the same manner during your truck checks then when on call everyone assigned to that truck will know where that tool is. Efficiency is necessity in the fire industry.
While training, all individuals can build that muscle memory of where needed equipment will be situated and know where to go. This can also help especially with complicated water adaptor situations and new volunteers; “Grab the top left adaptor from the board,” as opposed to, “It should be on the left side of the truck and look for one with 2.5 on it.”
Number 3: Scene clean up.
If you are cleaning up a scene and preparing to depart for your station a quick check will determine if any of your brackets are empty and a tool is still loose at the scene. Purchasing new equipment will always cost more than the bracket to secure it in the first place.
Number 4: Equipment life and life-saving equipment.
A new set of hydraulic rescue tools will easily cost tens of thousands of dollars and having that equipment constantly sliding/banging around in a compartment can mean that you will never know if it is truly serviceable or not. Professional grade equipment should not be thrown in a bin to be jostled down the road; hydraulic gear is built tough but it should not be unnecessarily damaged due to poor storage. You will extend the usable equipment life of your life-saving equipment by properly storing and maintaining it.
Number 5: Cost is not necessarily prohibitive.
Costs will vary with the supplier of the mounting equipment and to what degree you outfit a given space. We have outfitted three body compartments in pumpers multiple times this year with enough brackets for all the stored nozzles, hand tools, gated valves and hydraulic rescue tools for less than $4,500.00 CAD with supplier brackets custom fitted for the tools involved. Many departments may have a truck service provider who can fabricate brackets/boards for tools as well.
Number 6: It is never too late.
A truck does not have to be new to make a change in how your compartments are outfitted. In a lot of cases a new truck will take many years of planning, fundraising and budgeting. In the interim, outfitting a compartment can give new life to an older truck and positively affect on-scene performance.
A truck can do a lot of things but the tools it carries can mean the difference between a well-executed rescue or failure. Take care of your gear and it will take care of you and those you serve!
Tips and Tricks:
Pull out some spare cardboard and tape up some true-to-scale mock-ups of each compartment on your new truck. Start placing the gear you intend to put into service on that truck into the compartments. Visually seeing the space you have available will be a great first step to making decisions on your equipment. Keep in mind that ULC and NFPA have guidelines for the equipment you require on a fire truck and that it will vary based on whether that truck will be classified as a pumper, tanker or aerial device.
~ The MMFSS Truck Team