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The November installment of The Apparatus Architect reviewed some history regarding fire apparatus cab design and the impact of staffing on seating positions and arrangements. Over the years, with the advent of four-door-cab apparatus, more seating and equipment-storage options have been developed by manufacturers to address the needs of the fire and emergency services. At a national level, studies are being conducted to validate criteria that were developed years ago regarding the anatomical characteristics of fire and emergency personnel. The results of this analysis will have a profound impact on future apparatus designs for seating positions, stepping surfaces, handrails and many other areas.
Today, many departments are operating with four to six personnel under the best of conditions. With this in mind, manufacturers are looking at ways to maximize the available space inside cabs for personnel, radios and computer equipment, protective gear and other tools and equipment. Each of these areas must be carefully considered by a department to ensure it is meeting the objectives of the apparatus. Honest answers to the four questions first raised in Part 52 of The Apparatus Architect provide a solid basis for the design of your new unit:
1. How many personnel normally will be assigned or will ride on this unit?
2. What mapbooks, computer and resource materials must be readily available for the officer?
3. Where will protective gear be stored during non-emergency responses?
4. What tools and equipment will be mounted and secured in the cab or an adjacent area?
Space for Operator and Officer
One of the constant fire service complaints about current production cabs is the lack of room for the driver and officer’s seat positions. With the changes in engine emissions technology and electronics, today’s diesel engines need more room for cooling and exhaust systems, leaving little room for other critical chassis components. As most custom fire chassis incorporated tilt-cab/engine-forward designs until recently, there was little that could be accomplished to improve the cramped working areas for the driver and officer.
Earlier in 2011, Pierce Manufacturing introduced the Dash CF cab and chassis to address many space, visibility, safety and maintenance issues by relocating the engine back toward the rear in between the crew seats and into the frame rails. This new cab design allows the driver and officer’s seat locations to be moved inward, improving the amount of leg, elbow and shoulder room. The Dash CF is 96 inches wide with an interior width of 92 inches, wall to wall.
Entering the Cab
When entering the cab, you notice that the first step into the cab is much lower to the ground, making egress much easier and more comfortable. The two front steps are 18½ inches from the ground with the height of the step to the cab floor being 16½ inches. Inside the driver’s door on the A-post is long handrail that assists with entry into this area. The crew cab steps are only slightly higher and provide a non-slip surface.
With the increased use of electronics, dashboard gauges and controls are sometimes scattered in different locations across the width of the cab. In addition, with radio and computer laptop mounting, the line of sight for the driver is limited when looking through the windshield over to the officer’s side of the cab. Some departments have installed bumper guide posts and windshield-mounted down-view mirrors to let the driver see the right-hand corner of the apparatus at the front bumper. The Pierce engineering team was able to lower the windshield some 10 inches, providing almost unlimited vision for the driver when seated and belted, with no portion of the dashboard blocking the line of sight.