Apparatus bodies can be produced of galvanneal steel, aluminum or stainless steel. Each apparatus manufacturer has its preferences and styles of construction which will be reflected in the specifications that it employs to build the apparatus. The committee should look at the life expectancy of the apparatus as well as some of the findings that were revealed when gathering technical information on the apparatus (See "The Apparatus Architect: Part 3 - Gathering Technical Information," November 2000).
Each type of body material has advantages and depending upon the factors that are important to the committee there should develop a clear choice as to which material should be used in the construction of your new pumper. The apparatus manufacturer will attempt to convince the committee that its style of construction is the best and will embellish its presentation with lengthy warranties and other assurances that its unit is "the best money can buy." Here is where the educated consumer can differentiate between fact and fiction, or with the assistance of an apparatus architect insure that the proper materials are specified and used in the construction of the new unit.
If your department has adopted a standard design for engine company apparatus, then the process of purchasing a new pumper will be easier. Large departments like FDNY and Los Angeles City have acquired pumpers for many years with standard compartment designs with enhancements in each model year of apparatus. However, many departments do not have this degree of standardization and will approach each new pumper with a new design. At this point, it could be beneficial to join with neighboring departments, standardize basic apparatus design and order multiple apparatus.
The reason for having the apparatus committee formulate an equipment list is to conceptualize the size of the body needed to carry this equipment. Most manufacturers offer pumper and rescue engine bodies in various configurations and sizes. If two different apparatus manufacturers offer identical body dimensions, this is a coincidence and not by design. The apparatus committee should determine the minimum compartment sizes and cubic foot storage capacity that will be needed to hold the department's equipment. You can go back and measure the compartments on your last pumper to get a basis for comparison as well as calculate the enclosed storage space on new apparatus that you have looked at.
Remember, bigger is not always better when it comes to physical size of the apparatus. As the body compartments and water tanks get larger, one or two things happen: the rig gets taller or longer, or both. This impacts the working height of the rear hosebed, access to ground ladders, overall vehicle safety and other equipment that may be stored over the pump area.
One of the most important aspects of body design is the useable depth of the compartments with the doors closed. Manufacturers will advertise certain dimensions in their specifications for compartment depths, but many times this will be the overall depth of the compartment and not the useable depth for storage of equipment. The thickness of the door, whether hinged or roll up, and intrusion of door hardware will affect the useable depth of the compartment. Why would you spend thousands of dollars per square foot on compartment space only to fill the top half of the top compartment with the roll-up door?
Equipment layout inside of the compartments is not difficult; however, if you wait until the apparatus backs into the door to decide what is going to fit where, it's too late in the process to change the body. Any change that you make now will be costly and you will be forced to live with the results for the life of the apparatus.
Certain equipment items such as one-hour self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) bottles, rotary saws and long hand tools may not fit in standard body compartments and special mounting arrangements may have to be considered. In addition, if the engine company carries special fittings and adapters, these will need to be made readily accessible for immediate use. All of these concerns need to be addressed in the design phase of the apparatus when changes can be made at little or no cost.