My volunteer departments is looking at ordering a new fire apparatus. We are in a debate about Side Mount pumps and Top Mount pumps. I have my own reasons for wanting a Top Mount. I am looking for what everyone else thinks about the advantages and disadvantages of both Top and Side Mount Pumps.

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Sounds like your district is the polar oppospite of mine then.

I'm still looking at one thing that I believe applies to you. I can easily see how you can get the pump panel facing the building every time. What's the worst case scenario delay for that, 2 to 4 minutes? Is that considered acceptable in the event of an entrapment? 2 to 4 minutes (or even 1 to 2 minutes) in the event of an entrapment literally can be the difference between rescue and recovery.

In that scenario do you deal with the decreased visibility of being on the back side of the truck or do you take the extra time to get the pump panel facing the structure?
Mark our only problem with this is we do not always have another unit onscene to be a blocker, we have very few members
There are only a handful of alternate routes that would delay our arrival 2-4 minutes (again, in my district). But nevertheless, you do have a point. Understand that this is not an SOG/SOP, but just a preferred practice by many drivers. A driver would not be disciplined for parking with their pump panel facing away; contrarily, they would probably be disciplined if they passed the house with "confirmed" victims trapped so they could turn around and come back with panel facing.

Thanks for the friendly banter.

After over 30 years in the fire service, I have to agree with going with a top mount pump. The reason pumpers are impacted in the front or rear is because they were improperly placed when arriving. Consider this, if you have a side mount pump, you now have to walk around the truck, putting yourself in the path of traffic, just to make or confirm connections on the other side, and now since you are on the other side of the engine, you have no clue what oncoming traffic is doing. You may just wind up getting hit because you couldn't see the vehicle coming at you. I have operated engines on single lane streets, two lane state highways, and divided limited access roadways, and the absolute safest area to operate is on the top mount pump. The climb up & down is very minimal to say the least. What the fire service has as one of it's biggest points of pride is also it's downfall "TRADITION" Side mount pumps are a big tradition in fire apparatus and many firefighters have a hard time breaking that tradition. The only reason almost all of the departments in my county would consider ordering side mount is due to length restrictions in thier station, but almost all of them operate top mount. My company has had top mount pumps since 1989 and we would never consider going back to side mount pumps.
The current department I am on uses top mount and the previous had side mounts. Having worked on both I would have to say that the top mount is my favorite for all of the previously listed reasons. Just keep in mind though that everyone is different and may have different opinions that can all be right. My suggestion is to see if you can get an opportunity to pump the one you don't have currently with all or most of your EO and take a poll based on the favorite.
Top mount is best. In the city narrow streets with cars parked on either side.
Do not provide a good work area for side mounts. On more than one
occasion I've had just enough rm to barely open my door.
On the narrow streets it is not uncommon to have to step on a hood
or bumper. Then step down to the ground.
i read the same thing and asked WT? is he talking about, but does make other points

seeing the scene gives another set of eyes watching things that the I/c may not see and need to know
Well I'm the engineer for our department and I can tell you I love our top mount. I started with the side mount and like others mentioned you can't see you have lines in the way.

I will say one of the downsides is during a fire I get up and down off the engine numerous times. Very small department that is dependent on tanker shuttles for water. So I normally have to jump down and guide the tankers back to the drop tank. So I may not be "fighting" the fire but I get just as
Top mounts are much better than side mounts for the reason others have posted here already.

When you get into Top Mounts, you need to consider Forward-Facing or Rear-Facing panels.

If you have a front jump line, or your department primarily uses forward lays when catching hydrants, go with a Forward-Facing Top Mount panel.

I too am an engineer at my station and I love the top mount pumps. A lot of people talk about seeing the hoses and scene better but it's not just that. You can also keep better track of what's being gotten out of the compartments than you can with a side mount. I have used front mount pumps and side mount pumps, front mount is good in that you know exactly what is going on with the pump all the time and with our setup you can move the truck and still flow water. Only downside with ours is all the 2 1/2 connections are off the front so you have to drag hose then hook it up which can be a pain for suction or discharge. You also can't keep track of compartments like you can with a top mount pump. I don't care for side mount pumps they put you in the middle of the road sometimes and it's much harder to get a feel for the scene should the truck be blocking said scene. And again you can't keep track of equipment like you can with a top mount pump. Just my 2 cents.
We got our new Pierce top side mount in Jan. We love it so far. Visibilty is excellant no matter which way you pull up on scene. It did not add any additional lenghth to the truck. The pump operator is up and safe when working near the road. Our second due pumper is a top mount. It is ok but you can't beat the view of the scene like on the new Pierce. It is also about 3ft. shorter than our top mount.
Got a pic?


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