1. #1
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    Default How many of you have the MABAS numbering system on your trucks?

    We will have a new engine in the fall and we are wondering what we should number it as. Currently we use the St. Louis county system where the first two digits are the dept. identifier, the 3rd number is the station it is located at, and the 4th number is the type of apparatus. So our engine at station 1 is 1412.

    Recently a number of depts. in the county adopted the MABAS numbering system which differs from the St. Louis County style. Some other departments still use the old county two digit system while others simply label their units as Pumper 1 or Truck 2.

    When I started looking at department websites in what I consider the cradle of MABAS (division 1,2,3) I was surprised to see that I found NO four digit style numbering on ANY of the pictures of apparatus. Alot of the pictures were of recently delivered trucks.

    So my question is, if the bastion of MABAS doesnt use the standardized numbering system why does MABAS have it? Do these departments that have "Engine 1" or "Engine 21" on the truck say something different when they are on the radio like Engine 1511?

    As we replace new apparatus I am wondering if we should stay with the St. Louis County system, go to the 'official' MABAS system or go with the tempting Engine 1,2,3 Truck 1, Rescue 1, etc.

    I have never been to a large MABAS incident but I would think operations personnel would refer to an engine from a town by the town name rather than the 4 digit number. If not, engines from different counties with the same two digit identifier would be confused. For instance if our engine in Godfrey (1412) and an engine from Cahokia in another county (1412) showed up in Springfield for a tornado wouldnt you say Godfrey's engine and Cahokia's engine rather than 1412? If someone didnt specify which 1412 would it not create confusion?

    I appreciate any input and thoughts. Thank you!

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    Default By The Numbers

    MABAS doesn't have a numbering system, some counties do.

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    Regardless of what anyone says, MABAS does NOT have a numbering system, and to call it that is not right. I believe that system comes from the license plates that the fire chiefs started, also NOT MABAS. After this was brought up at a meeting I did some investigating with the powers at MABAS, they never herd of it, has been talked about, but was decided to be to confusing. They prefer to use your dept name, and a simple 1 or 2 digit number. There not saying no to numbering but when you go interdivisional, you need to add your div number to it, for example 31xxxx. To answer another of your questions, when you go to a large deployment, you will be assigned a number and they will mark it right on your truck. If you could send me or post an example of what they are using, I would like to see if it is the same as up here.

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    Wow. When this all came down from the MABAS/County Fire Chiefs council we all thought it was THE MABAS way, just like the Passport system. The follow is out of an article in the local newspaper about it. I think it is more confusing that the St. Louis County system. From what you are saying it is really tempting to buck the trend and just name our new Rescue Engine, "Engine 1". Is there any MABAS document that gives recommendations?

    -------

    Wilson said the new numbering system is composed of four digits used to identify the department, type of vehicle and the department’s vehicle number.


    The first two digits indicate the department, jurisdiction or agency. For example, all of Edwardsville’s trucks start with “13.”


    The third digit tells the type vehicle or personnel identifier. As a general rule:


    0 = chief or commanding officer


    1 and 2 = engines, pumpers


    3 = trucks, ladder truck, aerial apparatus or combination of pumper/rescue/ladder, a.k.a. “Quint”


    4 = ambulances


    5 = rescue squads, which include specialized equipment such as trench rescue


    6 = tenders, water tankers


    7 = brush trucks


    8 = fire prevention vehicles


    9 = administrative vehicles


    The last number indicates the unit/personnel designated by the department/district. The rule is:


    0 = chief


    1 - 9 = deputy chief, assistant chief or other command staff


    Wilson said that in the early to mid-1990s, Madison County assigned the first two digits of the system; however, the only departments to use them were fire districts dispatched by the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. He said the old system also didn’t include numbers to determine the type of vehicle.


    “(The new system) is just one step toward being more unified,” Wilson said.


    He said he believes most departments will comply with the new numbering system.

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    I’m going to guess that one or 2 things happened here. An over zealous chief used MABAS to sell or the paper screwed up, actually I though this was a better system than the one up this way, and I do remember reading that article. There is no MABAS doc on this matter but I will say I talked to 3 of the top 5 when trying to get to the bottom of this. MABAS is on a big push to get NIMS compliant, and they preach PLAIN ENGLISH! No 6739 in route, its “department” engine 3 in route. So buck the system, we are, until MABAS tells me different. Divisions doing this all have the same problem, they can’t look beyond their boundaries, throw 3 or 4 divisions together and how confusing is that going to be. As a department waiting for incoming resources, I don’t care what numbers on your truck, I need to know 2 things, what is coming, truck, engine, squad, and where it’s coming from, Galesburg, Springfield, Edwardsville, anything else is a waist and confusing. I need to add this would be for a declaration and not a common box.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GFPD2005 View Post
    We will have a new engine in the fall and we are wondering what we should number it as. Currently we use the St. Louis county system where the first two digits are the dept. identifier, the 3rd number is the station it is located at, and the 4th number is the type of apparatus. So our engine at station 1 is 1412.
    This is the way it is with majority of the departments in St Clair county with the exception of East St Louis. The just have three numbers for their vehicals.
    FF Robert Hill
    Washington Park, IL
    Scott AFB, IL

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    I will agree with everything Trainer has told you about the numbering system and MABAS. All of the policies and proceedures can be found at mabasradio.org. The "radio signatures" policy will help explain some of what Larry has tried to describe. Most Department's numbering systems are base on county or chief association agreements and would sugest you use whatever system that is in place not to maintain continuity among responders. Our county uses the XYX Dept..Engine...1. I am a firm beliver of the KISS system!

    Quote Originally Posted by trainer View Post
    Regardless of what anyone says, MABAS does NOT have a numbering system, and to call it that is not right. I believe that system comes from the license plates that the fire chiefs started, also NOT MABAS.
    Larry
    You are partially correct in you statement above. The Chiefs did start the license plates and our intent was to use the OSFM ID# of the department on them but somewhere through the political process MABAS stepped in and mandated that the plate use the MABAS division number followed by up to four numbers chosen by the department. This move did not allow for non-mabas members to be issued fire chief license plates by the sec of states office.
    Proudly serving as Vice-President of the Illinois Delegation of the IACOJ

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    Les, are you sure MABAS stepped in? Or was it someone trying to tie the 2 together. I’m pretty sure I received a memo that said they had nothing to do with the plates. Les don’t take this the wrong way, I know what the original intent was but it’s become almost like an ego thing, look at me I’m a chief.

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    Larry

    Please check your email
    Proudly serving as Vice-President of the Illinois Delegation of the IACOJ

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    Maybe it's just the way we do it in Minnesota, but all the departments in my county use a type of apparatus based system. Engine ##, Ladder##, Tender##, etc, etc...... We work alot with the neighboring county as well, and they are on the same system. Our system uses 1 for Station 1 apparatus, and 2 for Station 2 apparatus. i.e. Ladder 12 is a station 1 ladder.

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    Default Numbers

    We recently changed our ambulances, squad and pickup to go along with the numbers Chief Wilson was talking about. From what I head it had to do with MABAS, but who knows. I can say that the new Mutual Aid agreement in Madison County has worked very well! It is nice to have automatic aid for every structure fire. I just wish we could get these numbers straightened out so I dont keep calling apparatus by ten different numbers!

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    We did some numbering mostly because our MABAS division covers 4 counties and we wanted a common system. It was easy for our county since we already used 3 numbers - 100s for the department, 10s for the type of apparatus, 1s for the local unit number. We just added a number (4 in our case) to the front of it. So Ashley 4221 is from Washington County (4), from Ashley (2), a pumper (2) and the 1 means its from our Ashley station, DuBois station trucks end in 2. Works for us.
    Jack Boczek, Chief
    Ashley Community Fire Protection District

    FLATLANDERS FOREVER!

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    Numbering systems have 1 purpose it allows your dispatch to track, and if yours works great. We have one in our county, we do not use it, dispatch likes it because it’s easier and they sold everyone else on the idea because names can be misunderstood, clover eng 1 and colona eng 1 sounds similar, Ok I can go along with that. The system has been in place for maybe a year, and I here them ask to repeat more now than before. Let me ask all of you above, what happens when you go beyond your division or into a different dispatch area? those numbers don’t mean squat, so your suppose to add your div number to beginning, now its six digits and the only ones that are recognized are the first 2, you have to look at the big picture. I don’t like systems and before I make somebody mad, I want you to remember 2 things; MABAS and NIMS, tell you to use plain English, and anyone selling you on a MABAS numbering system is full of s……!

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    I think the most user friendly system I have seen is what MABAS 3 uses and Im sure many others. You scrap the station numbers for each individual department and number them as if you were one large department. So there might be 40 stations in your division. Then if your district or municipality has station 15 you would have engine 15, truck 15, rescue 15, etc. Then while being dispatched in your division you can simply be Anytown Engine 15. And going interdivisional you could add your division number and be Engine 3515.

    I know thats not going to happen here...

    The problem I have with the 4 digit numbers is having a number being a designator for the type of apparatus. Instead of saying engine 15 you hear alot of unit 1612. And based on the numbering system in use who knows what that could be. If you saying Tanker 12345 or Brush 843745 who cares what the numbers are, you know your getting a tanker or a brush truck.

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    I think I’m getting my message across. When you call a box, you’ll know exactly who, what, and how many are coming, regardless of what numbers those depts. are using. These numbers are all about accountability and tracking. Now I’ve written and deleted several things trying to make this sound right; am I going to stop people from making this mistake? Probably not, just think about big picture, and will it work? MABAS says it doesn’t.

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    we have been using MABAS, and their "numbering system" for 15+ years in our area (ogle co.), and it seems to work well for us and our neighbors. I was told the apparatus/officer numbering system we use is official MABAS? (may or may not be...i don't know)
    does anyone else use this system?

    1st 1-2 #'s = department #
    3rd # = type of unit
    0-3 = engine
    4 = squad
    5 = truck
    6 = brush
    7 = tender
    8 = utility
    9 = command
    4th # = local unit #
    Last edited by ff118pfd; 01-16-2009 at 02:20 AM.

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    OK, my 2₵...
    After seeing this same discussion here a few years ago, I questioned our Division Board to see if our Vehicle Numbering System was “correct”. We could not come up with an actual consensus on the status or origin of the numbering system, so I went to the source and contacted our MABAS Regional Operations Chief. He said “there is no “Official” MABAS Vehicle Numbering System. It is left up to each Division to come up with a system that is works for them”.
    There are many variations in use out there that are working for different Departments and Divisions. If it works, stick with it. Yes, some of the numbering systems can get confusing when operating with other Divisions but hopefully you have also coordinated your system with neighboring divisions. As far as larger scale incidents, many times vehicles will receive an alternate identifier at the Reception Area that is specific only to that incident.

    When in doubt about MABAS policies, procedures & guidelines, they are posted on their website www.mabas.org (which is soon to be improved and revised) or www.mabasradio.org .

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    I’m getting a feeling of deja-vu! Only difference I went higher up the ladder to confirm.

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