On my department tailboard riding has been fully and totally banned. Not for calls, not for parades, not for an inch. I'd have to say its a reasonable decision due to the extremely obvious safety reasons. Although, there is a crew at the nearby racetrack that has some sort of harness rigging that they utilize for a truck they have there that responds to incidents on the track. Personally, I cant see why any department would allow this, save for maybe in parade situations. I almost want to say during my short experience thus far as a firefighter, I heard there was something from NFPA or similar agency stating that it should not be done, though I am quite possibly wrong.
We tend to do this only once a year, and that is under very carefully controlled conditions. At the end of a parade, if people need a lift back to their cars, tou will see our members riding outside the rig. A very experienced driver traveling at 20 mph, everyone is sober, the most experienced members outside, and the younger ones are piled inside the cab. Yep, we all know it's not a good idea but we do it after this one event.
When I first joined the fire service in 1982 it was still common practice to ride the tailboard. That's where you really learned who your friends were - your fellow riders would link their free arms around you so you could let go and put your turnout coat on, pull up your 3/4 length boots and wriggle your hands into those orange waterproof gloves. Put your turnouts on first, you say? Not with the truck pulling out of the house!
By 1986 all departments in this area had eliminated this practice. Our 1984 tanker-pumper (no wings, Mike) still had the signaling button on the back rail when we got rid of it last year. I admit that I had fun telling the younger disciples what the button was and how it was used.
Not on our Dept. either, they don't even really like us to be up on the engines while backing up over LDH to load it, they would prefer if we are able to to roll the LDH and return to the station and load it. A Definite No No at our Dept.
Ah yes, back in the day we used to fight over the tailboard except when it was raining. That was being a "real" fireman, (sorry ladies). I still have a couple of the safety belts we sometimes used. I sometimes think it is unfortunate that a few guys never learned how to hold on and ruined it for everyone. But then again, I've kinda gotten used to air conditioning.
BTW, we still have a pumper with the button on the back. We told a newbe that it put the truck in auto-reverse for loading hose, that way we didn't need a driver. He believed it! He would be one who wouldn't know to hold on.
When I got on the F.D. in 1994, we had an engine with the button on the back too, although they had outlawed riding the tailboard a few years earlier. I've never had the experience of riding the tailboard.
1978 not only did we ride the back but as a JR member at 15 you got the old gear...Wool lined coats and hip boots. We had a 65 Hahn with a jump seat. It had the only 2 airpacks (not SCBA's back then but airpacks and yes by calling them SCBA's they could charge more) the company had at the time. Our old 56 Mack a a rear step only. Once the Hahn wouldn't start and we had like 15 people piled on old 301
We had a member who had sezuires and he had two on the back. Once when another engine was behind us and they freaked out. I think I can remember at least 3 people falling off. Oh man those were the days
When I joined in '89 we rode in just about every available spot on the truck (tailboard, catwalk, next to jump seats, hosebed). I used to love to ride the catwalk, you could look over the cab while you were responding. One call at about 11pm in '92 the view was remarkable. There was the light bar flashing and the whole sky was lit up in orange it was wild (Spent 2/12 days at that one I think).
The best part is after a drill we would open the deck gun on to the hose bed tarp and fill it with water when we were done for the night. Then with the "NEW" guys on the back the driver would punch it and soak every unsuspecting sap on the tailboard, man did I get wet when it was my turn. We still tell stories about that stuff. Your all right though, sure miss the good old days, and I am glad there gone!
And yeah our truck an '84 Pierce still has the buttons on the tail board, but we can't use it anymore. Just on our inspection night to take guys back to the hall, and even that is rare due to the other trucks having more room.