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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we have both types at my department. Both engines are great but I have to say I much prefer top mount. With the side mount sometimes we're finding ourselves on the opposite side of the truck from the action. The engineer can't stand at the pump and see what's going on at the same time. Also there are issues with lines getting in your way we have 2x1 3/4 speed lays above the pump panel plus 2x2 1/2 inch outlets right there at the pump panel and our 5 inch hard suction. The speed lays are coming down over your head, one of the 2 1/2 inch gets in the way of the lever to open and close the hard suchtion and you've got as many as four lines getting in your way as you're trying to run the pump.

With the top mounted panel it doesn't matter which side of the truck the action is on, you can see it. You also don't have to worry about reaching over charged lines to manipulate the controls.

The side mounted is workable but there are definite drawbacks. I prefer top mounted.
Top mount is the best, it takes you away from the "Spaghetti" that Eric mentioned, it gives you a 360 of the truck and what hose is connected to what as well as who is on it, it gives you access to the deck gun and can operate it by yourself if need be and most pumpers have the foam buckets up top, which makes it easier to access. Its safer and makes it easier especially without hose lines leaking and freezing on the pump panel in those all too famous winter time fires.
top mount adds leingth to the truck (but i still like them for safety) take that into consideration and top mount puts the pump operator in play if you need the deck gun
When I was EO a lot, the engine I operated most was a top mount. I absolutely loved it, still do. Would much rather have to go up and down and have 360 visibility than sitting amidst a bunch of hoses.

I did just what Brian and Russ mentioned on a trailer fire as well. While the attack crew was stretching the line and getting masked up, I blitzed it and knocked it down to the point that a 1 3/4" line would actually do something.
Thanks everyone, my major concern with a side mount is the safety concern on highways with the new standards we are being taught about placing apparatus, the apparatus must be placed in a manner in which the pump panel is open to traffic I don’t know about everyone else but I have enough watching a pump panel I don’t need to worry about traffic going 70 mph in my direction. Being unable to have that 360 degree view around the apparatus is also a major concern for me also you don’t have hoses in your face blocking you panel or have to worry about a hose failure at a close proximity to your body. I was also told of a possible NFPA standard about not having any intakes or dischargers on the side in which the pump panel is on can anyone shed any light on this for me. The main reason I am told they don’t want a top mount is because they are getting to old to climb up and down, I may hate the two step climb but I would rather my life be better protected.
Side mount-everyday, all day

Some will argue the top-mount is safer, I disagree. I have seen a top-mount pumper that was rear ended at the scene of a vehicle fire on a busy highway. The top of the pump panel was resting firmly against the cab. If the driver/operator had been standing at the pump panel, he would have been crushed. I have seen many, many wrecks where top mount pumpers were rear ended and I would guess about 70% or so folded at that point.

I also do not like the getting up and down during ice/snow. The extra travel can create an opportunity to slip and fall.

I like being able to feel my pump. In some cases, the apparatus I have operated did not always have reliable temperature gauges. I can feel the intake with my bare hands on a side mount and make immediate adjustments, without getting up or down (again). As an E/O, I need to know early on if I need to circulate my pump water.

I also like to be able to closely watch the suction hose when performing draft operations. Top mounts are a bit difficult to fully monitor, depending on light conditions or other factors.

What about electrical wires? If wires land on your truck (because you parked in the wrong spot), on a top mount you're pretty much stranded. If you're on a side mount, just don't touch the truck and step away.

360 degree view? If you know your district well enough, you should be able to drive to any address in your response area AND have your pump panel facing the building, EVERY TIME. I don't care what is happening on the other side of the truck. I care about watching the fire, listening to orders, and anticipating what they are going to ask for next. It is not uncommon for E/O's to throw ladders or PPV fans in my area due to limited staffing.

All of this being said, I don't know that any particular pump location is safer than the other. Rear mounts are not my cup of tea, but their safety can also be argued. Which side? Driver or Officer side pump panel? What about front mount? With current manufacturers, you can put a pump, deck gun or crosslays wherever you want. So if your truck is spec'ed right, the hose won't be in the way and standing in traffic may not be an issue.

The one fact that cannot be argued is that pumpers are most often impacted in the front or rear. I'll take my chances with my feet on the ground, rather than putting them on a truck that can be knocked out from underneath me.

Just my $.02

360 degree view? If you know your district well enough, you should be able to drive to any address in your response area AND have your pump panel facing the building, EVERY TIME

I highly doubt this is possible or even realistic. Unless one is going to back in, do 360's, drive over lawns, through woods and\or fields, swamps, etc. Or waste precious time getting setup so the pump panel is facing the fire.

You do make some other valid points, however.

On edit, I know this could still happen, but the engine operating at the scene should have another vehicle in place to be a blocker. Most of the departments around us are using either a truck or a tanker as a blocker.
I have used all four types side,rear,top,front, in my thirty years of service and must say that the top is by far the better, No one seems to bother you much ,you are out of the way , Yes the top mount does add length to the truck about 24-30 inches so make sure you have room in the station. The disadvantage to top mount is climbing up and down to connect suctions and supply lines, but a trivial matter to me
I agree it's absolutely not realistic to have the pump panel facing the scene every time in my district. Sure you can do it in a urban or suburban setting where going around the block and coming in from the other direction might only take a minute more, but my district is a very rural area. Coming in from the other direction might involved going MILES out of the way and could add as much as 5 to 10 minutes to response time and that's just not going to happen.
I too vote for the top mount. I have operated side, front and top mount pumps. When I am on top I can see the whole scene and the FFs can see me. Hand signals work when FFs can't hear or don't have a radio. Dennis R. had some valid points but I like working on the top mount pump the best.
It is realistic and it is possible. Not in all settings or districts, as you have pointed out. In our area, we are 95% urban with very few non-hydranted areas with a cross street about every 1/2 mile or short cul-de-sacs. Which makes it easy for me to say that.

I agree, this is not always a reality in all areas. Many districts have long winding dirt roads with dead ends and don't have a luxury our drivers often take for granted.

For drivers in a rural setting, the top mount MAY be the way to go. You may not have many of the 4-lane high-speed highway issues that plague some of us and you can always see 360 all the time, no matter which direction you take to get there.

Either way, we each have our preference, and as long as it works for you that is all that matters.

Be Safe out there.

It is realistic and it is possible. Not in all settings or districts, as you have pointed out.

I agree, this is not always a reality in all areas.

You contradict yourself. Not sure if you realized it or not, but you aren't making sense. First it is, then not in all settings. Then it isn't a reality.

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