We have 2 side mounts and 1 top mount. I've loved the top mount from the start. It gives you a clear 180 degree view from side to side, as well as keeps you out of the road. A few have suggested the rear mounts, but we have a good bit of highways and a 10 mile stretch of interstate in our response area, and personally behind the truck is somewhere I don't feel comfortable being on the highway.

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We have 1 top and 1 side. I perfer the topmont. Off the road and able to see. Little bid longer wheelbase but I feel its worth it.
When I started we only had side panel but we have a top mount now and if given a choice I wouldnt have anything else. Your pump operator has a much better view of whats going on and it makes communications with the operator easier.
top mount all the way , easier to watch your crew and the surroundings.
It depends on what your engineers are required to do when they arrive on scene.

If you have the staffing where all the engineer has to do is tend the pump then a top mount is the way to go.

If your engineers are supposed to help pull lines, secure their own water source, hand out equipment, etc because you don't have the staffing to delegate these tasks to others, then your engineers are going to be doing an awful lot of climbing on a top mount pump.

Way back when I was an engineer I would have hated a top mount pump. Thankfully we had side-mount pumps.

Now, some have mentioned not having to deal with all the hoses, and I'm all for that. It's not just an option on top mounts, you can do that on a sidemount too. At this year's SC Firefighter's Association conference Crimson had a custom cab sidemount on display that had minimal discharges and intakes at the pump panel. If they can design one, I feel sure that other apparatus companies can and will do the same if you spec it that way.

Someone mentioned the sidemount, elevated pump panels. If I'm not mistaken that's an option that Pierce has with their PUC engines. Again, there is climbing involved, so it falls back on what are you requiring your engineers to do.
We have both Top and Side Mount Pump Panels. I would take a top mount panel over the side mount any day. Your up out of the way and you can see what's going on.

Front mount pump, electronic valve controls on front and rear.
Top Mounts, without a doubt. Safer for the Engineer for several reasons. Keeps you out of the traveled portion of the roadway, keeps you away from all the connections at the pump panel and allows for greater visibility of the fire scene. I wouldn't spec out an Engine Company with any but a Top mount panel.
yah it may increase the length with some makes.we were pricing a Crimson and they could make up for the extra length my shortening the box and making it taller.That way the tank size isn't effected.And all of them I have seen have a raised grip/drain so the heat coming off the engine melts the snow and it can drip down through.
We have 2 engines and a ladder truck and thay all have side mount pump panels. It can be a burden when yopu cant see but in the village i live in we know just about everybody and try to position the truck as to where we(pump operators) can see the fire.
im a top mount guy better view at whats going on around you
The Trucks we have are side mount but as we replace the trucks we will be going to the top mount as long as the founds are there. As for a ladder truck I dont see the side mount as being as big a deal do to the turn table oper. being able to help the pump oper.
Top mount can see what going on.. also tend to be a better palce when there is communication going on...

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