Inside the Apparatus Industry
Story & Photos by Bob Vaccaro
By now most of us have seen new apparatus deliveries with the new NFPA 1901-required reflective striping on the front and rear. Whether you like it or not, it’s here to stay. In my opinion, it really makes a vehicle stand out on a highway, which was the intent of the standard to begin with.
Anything we can do to improve apparatus visibility on the fireground or at accident scenes is a plus in my book. After all, it’s a simple fact that too many firefighters and EMS personnel have been seriously injured or killed by inattentive drivers—and this striping will help tremendously with visibility.
Pierce Harrisburg (Pa.) Wagon 3 front-bumper striping.
KME low hosebed.
Danko tanker rear striping.
Crimson rear striping on a Montgomery County (Md.) pumper.
In this column, I’ll detail the full standard and provide photos of actual apparatus sporting the stripes.
The 2009 Edition of NFPA 1901: Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus states the following:
15.9.3: Reflective Striping
22.214.171.124: A retroreflective stripe(s) shall be affixed to at least 50 percent of the cab and body length on each side, excluding the pump panel areas, and at least 25 percent of the width of the front of the apparatus.
• 126.96.36.199.1: The stripe or combination of stripes shall be a minimum of 4 inches in total width.
• 188.8.131.52.2: The 4-inch-wide stripe or combination of stripes shall be permitted to be interrupted by objects (receptacles, cracks between slats in roll-up doors) provided that the full stripe is seen as conspicuous when approaching the apparatus.
• 184.108.40.206.3: A graphic design shall be permitted to replace all or part of the required striping material if the design or a combination thereof covers at least the same perimeter lengths as required by 220.127.116.11.
18.104.22.168: At least 50 percent of the rear-facing vertical surfaces, visible from the rear of the apparatus, excluding any pump panel areas not covered by a door, shall be equipped with retroreflective striping in a Chevron pattern, sloping downward and away from the center line of the vehicle at an angle of 45 degrees.
• 22.214.171.124.1: Each stripe in the Chevron shall be a single color alternating between red and either yellow, fluorescent yellow or fluorescent yellow-green.
• 126.96.36.199.2: Each stripe shall be 6 inches in width.
188.8.131.52: All retroreflective materials required by 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11 shall conform to the requirements of ASTM D 4956, Standard Specification for Retroreflective Sheeting for Traffic Control, Section 6.1.1 for Type I Sheeting.
• 18.104.22.168.1: All retroreflective materials used to satisfy the requirements of 22.214.171.124 that are not colors listed in ASTM D shall have a coefficient of retroflection of 10 with observation angle of 0.2 degrees and an entrance angle of -4 degrees.
• 126.96.36.199.2: Fluorescent yellow and fluorescent yellow-green retroreflective materials used to meet the requirements of 188.8.131.52 shall conform to the minimum requirements specified for yellow Type I Sheeting in ASTM d 4956, Section 6.1.1
• 184.108.40.206.3: Any printed or processed retroreflective film construction used to meet the requirements of 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 shall conform to the standards required of an integral colored film as specified in ASTM D 4956 section 6.1.1.
Now, are you totally baffled and think you need a degree in mechanical engineering to understand all the details of this standards? Don’t feel bad. All the apparatus manufacturer engineers will guide you in the right direction and show you how the striping looks on drawings before you build your apparatus.
In any case, you’ll have a safer apparatus for your people to operate on and around. Let’s take a look at some of these designs.
Bob Vaccaro has more than 30 years of fire-service experience. He is a former chief of the Deer Park (N.Y.) Fire Department. Vaccaro has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, The New York Fire Patrol and several major commercial insurance companies as a senior loss-control consultant. Vaccaro is a life member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
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