Location, Location, Location: The First-Due Truck

The success of the first-arriving truck company is contingent on a number of factors: they should be properly equipped, well trained, adequately staffed and respond using the safest and most efficient path of travel from the station to the incident scene...


The success of the first-arriving truck company is contingent on a number of factors: they should be properly equipped, well trained, adequately staffed and respond using the safest and most efficient path of travel from the station to the incident scene. From there, the initial spotting of the apparatus is a critical point in the company’s capabilities to carry out the four primary truck company functions upon arrival: primary search, rescue, ventilation and forcible entry. Allowing the proper access to the best vantage point for the truck will assist in these functions.

Why Placement Matters

It is a common belief (and rightfully so) that the front of the address/incident belongs to the first-due truck company, barring no structural collapse issues regarding this location (see Photo 1). If so, it will be necessary to flank the corner of the building to stay clear of the collapse zone. Furthering this belief, it is critical that the initial response must take into consideration the immediate coverage of both the front and the rear of the building. Fire conditions can vary greatly from the front to the back, and the use of the aerial device may be more significant around the rear of the building. The sides of the building still must be addressed, as immediate action may be necessary there as well. Therefore, the first arriving Truck Company should be assigned the front of the building as long as the apparatus can make a significant impact on the conditions of the incident.

Consider the response to a residential structure fire in a two-story wood-frame dwelling with fire showing on the second floor. The first-due truck company would be required to cover the second floor for search and rescue, and get to the roof to stand by for ventilation operations and report conditions to the incident commander (IC). In many residential settings, homes are set back a considerable distance, sometimes more than 75 feet back from the street. The 75-foot aerial that is arriving first may not be the best choice to cover the front, due to its limited reach to accomplish the company’s objectives.

Although the second-arriving truck company is assigned to cover the rear of the building, that does not necessarily mean that the apparatus must position at the rear; in most cases, that may be impossible to do. What it does require is that the company members get to the rear of the building and report the situation to the IC, looking for signs of possible victims, location and extent of the fire, force entry into the rear of the building as a second means of access/egress, and report any additional hazards that exist at the rear of the building (see Photo 2).

In addition, locations of exposures, power supplies, rear stairways, porches, and basement and cellar entrances can be identified, and command can be advised if an additional engine company is needed around the rear of the building. Truck companies can also spot ladders to the upper floors and report their locations to crews working inside the structure in the event they need to exit the upper floors in an emergency.

Aerial Positioning

To be effective, the truck company must position the apparatus on the fireground to accomplish the tasks assigned based upon order of arrival. Before committing to a specific position, consider the following points:

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