In many cases, while the design features of the aerial device that you may be considering are important, after a careful review of your past incidents, you will find that the ladder company is used more often as a giant toolbox and the frequency of use for the portable ladders, hand tools and power equipment is much greater. For this reason the apparatus committee must carefully review and evaluate the equipment list for all tools that it wants the new apparatus to carry. Due to the tremendous cost of the apparatus the days of unloading equipment off the old apparatus and backing the new apparatus in and then trying to figure out where the equipment might fit are gone forever. If you do not agree with this logic, you will be doing your firefighters and your taxpayers a great disservice.
A review of one manufacturer's body and compartment designs revealed the following cubic-foot storage capacities for tools and equipment:
- Single-axle quint 172 cubic feet
- Tandem-axle quint 208 cubic feet
- Tandem-axle ladder 347 cubic feet
- Mid-mount tower ladder 272 cubic feet
- Mid-mount tower quint 209 cubic feet
- Tractor-drawn ladder 379 cubic feet
The enclosed compartment space on fire apparatus is some of the most expensive real estate that you will ever purchase, so it is important that we design an apparatus that will be adequate to meet the needs of the department not only now, but in the future as well. Only through a careful analysis of your department's needs can you then determine the type of aerial device and the compartment requirements that you must have.
In the next installment of The Apparatus Architect we will discuss some of the various types of aerial apparatus and their operational characteristics. Knowledge of the features and benefits of each type of aerial will help you choose the best one for your department.