Greetings friends in FFN land.
I am constantly being the one who is proactive and voice my opinion in my fire company on a regular basis. Now on the other hand I'm not a s@#t stirrer either, but after 34.5 years both career and volunteer and a retired fire officer who has help with many apparatus spec's & purchases I should know something. I am looking for both the Pro's and Con's on conventional compartment doors vs. roll up doors. It is not a cost issue first off, I can see running rollup doors in congested city and suburban areas due to limited space around the apparatus on side streets and alley ways. In the city and suburbs a good many departments are career or combination and regular if not daily apparatus and equipment checks and washing are a part of the daily routine. And city and suburban streets are usually paved roadways unlike in the rural area's where I live and the roads are not all paved but dirt covered with chip and tar dusty and muddy roadways, and being a volunteer co. can't 100% garuntee the trucks up keep except for and occasional monthly check and wash, weather permitting. Our conventional Compartment doors have served us well for almost 50 years what haunts me the most on the rollup doors is, there will be a lack of maintanace, proper washing of the doors, drying in cold weather and we do get cold here. I have seen these doors on other companies not open when needed by Freezing shut, dirt and grime stuck in the rollup tracks causing failure to open, opening only partially, and horseplay in the apparatus bays where some one runs or runs into the rollup door or falls into the door or even accidently hits or scrapes into the rollup thus causing to not work properly or at all. On the other hand though our current compartment doors which have worked well for years and been put through the same punishments I described above (time tested) have always worked well even when bent up, frozen and filthy dirty. My point is what use would rollup doors do a rural fire co. running 65 to 75 calls a year in a area non condusive to rollup doors?. So if any one can ansewer my question I'd like to know your thoughts. And I only believe in our situation it's a case of the I want's not one of nessesity or need, but only to keep up with the company up the road or in town.
Roll up doors are definitely the way to go. Although we don't have any apparatus with any besides our engine with one roll up on the rear, I can see the next rescue that gets speced having them.
I personally like the look of a truck with conventional doors over roll ups but of course that is only my preference.
I prefer roll-up doors myself. Both our new engine and tanker use them.
The only time I have ever had an issue with one not opening was when an extension cord fell off the top shelf and got lodged in the door but that's been it in the 7 years we have had the truck. As far as maintenance we don't have an issue, once or twice a year a little soap and water and dry graphite and you're off running again. Often we let the juniors tackle this during hose testing. As far as operating in cold weather that can be an issue but is easily remidied. We were at a working mill fire in 2003, -36 degrees and the truck was taking spray from a 1000gpm monitor from a ladder pipe. After a few hours there was 1/2" of ice on every door and all it took was a few hits with the palm of your hand to wiggle the door, dislodge the ice and up they went.
I can't speak as to the problems of rollups not functioning because of dirt/grime. I'm on career so the truck gets washed daily, or at the very least every other day. I've never had them freeze up, but just because neither of those things has ever happened to me doesn't rule it out as a possiblity.
One positive with rollups is that it eliminates tearing doors off when exiting/entering the apparatus bay due to someone forgetting to close the swing out style door. With respect, if you have guys who don't run often and therefore may be more likely to not have a routine of checking all compartments before moving the vehicle, then maybe rollups would be better.
One negative with rollups is that there isn't an "umbrella" to stand under when pumping in a rainstorm :)
If you do go with rollups, make sure you don't use paste wax because when you buff it out it sticks in all the tiny rollup cracks and looks terrible. You have to use spray wax for a neat job.
I prefer the roll ups because I've had a hinged door come down on my head ( after some years they fail to stay open) and I've seen a firefighter drive into the bay with the a rear hinged compartment door open and not make it through....smack!
Roll up is the only way to go, with cramped qtrs and operating on narrow two lane roads there's no other choice. On a side note our '82 Saulsbury Heavy Rescue had convential doors that for the last 5yrs have started popping open when the body flex's, and yes we've made adjustments in an attempt to correct the problem.
we are similar department as yours, volunteers, rural, 90 runs annually including EMS, dirt roads and at 7-8000 ft above sea level get cold and snow. So far we have had no problems with the roll up doors and I spec them on all new apparatus . I can't say enough good about them. 1 BIG advantage: we get on scene and immediately start opening doors and leave them open, makes it a lot easier and quicker to find the right tool the first time.
I haven't busted a knee, shin or my head on a opened hinged door in a long time -- nice.