Props to Jason Hoevalmann at A Firefighter's Own Worst Enemy for a great blog post on positioning engine company rigs and hoselines in a way that lets us quickly access the ladders and to throw them early and often.  I'd recommend that you read the linked blog before replying here so you're familiar with the points that Jason made.

 

We all have to work with the ladder racks we have on our rigs, but there are a couple of things I'd like to add to Jason's ideas.

 

The first is that if you have hydraulic or electric ladder racks, when the rack is down it blocks access to all of the compartments on that side of the rig.  Once the crew removes the ladders, the driver should raise the rack back to the "road" position as soon as possible.

 

My other point is that while it requires some advance planning, a through-the-tank ladder rack with a rear access door can be the most efficient, least costly, and easiest access of any kind of ladder retention system you'll find on a pumper.  It doesn't require individual cable clamps to hold the ladders to the rack, it doesn't require a powered rack, and it keeps the ladders out of the way when not in use.  This system requires that the ladder rack be located beside the main hose beds and rear preconnect discharges, not below them.  That prevents the problem with hoselines blocking access to the ladders that Jason describes.  If also allows good access to the ladders in narrow streets or alleys where a hydraulic ladder rack might not have adequate space to deploy alongside the rig. 

 

An example of a through-the-tank, rear access ladder rack that will not interfere with hose deployment or vice versa are the Crimson/Spartan engines operated by my department.  Our apparatus committee and our Support Services chief did a great job on this design.

 

 

The only hose above the ladder rack is small amount of 2.5 inch intended for standpipe/FDC hookups.  Even the 5-inch rear intake doesn't interfere with deploying the ladders from the rack directly above it.

 

The only way the rear ladder rack will be blocked is if another rig parks too close behind it.  Drivers who pay attention will prevent that problem as will officers that are observant enough to catch and correct a driver who makes this kind of basic mistake..

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...and not every department is able to run a lot of heavy rescues or trucks - or ANY heavy rescues or trucks. That means giving individual units more bang for the buck - which equals the need for more compartment space than a 1947 American LaFrance 700 series engine had.

Why the '47 LaFrance? One of those was my first engine, and we didn't even have room to carry a first aid box and an oxygen cylinder inside a compartment.

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