1. #1
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    Default Top mount Vs. Side Mount

    Ok Guys & Gals,
    I need some honest opinions on this topic. We currently have no top mounts and the pump committee is wanting to look at them. I know most of the pros and cons but wanted to hear from the brothas and sistas. Fire away!

  2. #2
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    We have one of each and also had top mount we sold.

    Biggest advantage of the top mount is you're out of the road and have 360 degree view of what's happening.

    You're also out of the way of all the hoses should anything happen.

    Disadvantage is the up and down to connect, etc but it's a minor one.
    Steve Dragon
    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
    Volunteers are never "off duty".
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    I love our top mounts, I like being able to see what is going on.

    It comes down to personal preference. They all pump water, and have levers and buttons and lights. just depends on what you want.

    Our top mounts are a bit longer then the side mounts. That might be an issue if you have very tight roads.

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    I've never worked off of a top mount, they just aren't popular around here, so I don't know how bad the up and down is to connect hoses. If the driver is expected to help throw ladders, a top mount might also be more of an issue. As mentioned, the other big con is extra length.

    On the good side, it does get you out of the street and up where you can see what is going on.

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    As some have mentioned already, some disadvantages of the top mount is the up & down aspect and the extended length. The extended length, which I believe is roughly 24" can be a big deal if overall length, wheelbase and a tight turning radius are important factors. Not only that, it adds a bit of $$$$ to the cost of the vehicle.

    Another thing to consider is the increased potential for injury due to the up & down. A large metro department is in the process of replacing top mount pumpers with side mount pumpers with low hosebeds. Part of the reason for the change is to reduce the number of injuries related to having to take your feet off the ground to grab lines, equipment, run the pump, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by dragonfyre View Post
    We have one of each and also had top mount we sold.

    Biggest advantage of the top mount is you're out of the road and have 360 degree view of what's happening.

    You're also out of the way of all the hoses should anything happen.

    Disadvantage is the up and down to connect, etc but it's a minor one.
    Depending on your situation, I disagree that it is an "minor" disadvantage. If you are working in a situation where the only fire scene responsibility the pump operator has is to run the pump, there may not be much of an issue. However, if you are in a situation like my department, the pump operator (driver) generally has more to do than just watch the pump during the early stages of an incident. As such, not having to climb up and down while making the necessary connections, running the pump and doing some of the other things that are often needed is a huge advantage in my book.

    Personally, I really haven't found using a sidemount to be much of a problem in terms of viewing the fireground or even when operating on roadways.


    In general, I really won't say that a department is "wrong" for using a top mount pump, as they clearly can get the job done. However, for my situation, they simply aren't the right option for pretty much all of the reasons I stated above.

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    I've always liked side mounts better, but that's probably because that's what we've used for most of my career. One thing to consider with a top mount could be your climate, are you going to be dealing with snow and ice 3-4 months out of the year? Climbing up and down onto snowy/icy ground and snowy/icy diamond plate is something to think about.
    Last edited by sfd1992; 04-30-2010 at 07:37 PM.

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    While I see the advantages of a top mount, I would rather stick with the side mount. When I have the unpleasant task of moving up to drive (I'd rather sit in the back) I find that the first in driver doesn't have the advantage of staying at the pump panel. Maybe it is because we usually run on minimum staffing (3). But all the tasks; securing a water supply, staging tools and spare SCBA bottles, getting the PPV fan up to the door, giving our accountability board to the batt chief once he arrives, setting up scene lighting, etc... That would be a lot of climbing up and down off a top mount pumper, IMHO.

    I do think it would be cool to be able to see a 360 degree fire ground, especially when the fire scene is on the officer side of the rig, from a top mount.

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    Default I miss my top mount...

    I started driving with a side mount pumper. I then went to a new Pierce top mount. Drove it for 4 yrs. Went to a new side mount now for a couple of years. We as a dept. had a huge issue between top and side mount. We had 3 side mount pumpers and 3 top mount. After doing a survey of all the drivers, we had 17 that wanted top mounts, 2 that didnt know and 3-4 that wanted the side mount. The people that wanted the side mount had medical reasons. Bad knees, bad hip, and another back pain.. I can see the hazards of going up and down in the panel in ice and snow. I learned a few things in working with the top mount. One, during morning checkout I would leave my tank to pump open and my pump recert. partially open. This way I could throw it in pump gear on arrival* before exiting the cab and not worry about overheating my pump if I didnt go to immediate pump operations. I would do all the things that need to be done on the ground, cones, jaws, pulling hoses, before getting on the panel. I also was able to work the deck gun if needed without assistance because I could reach all the adjustments for pitch/height etc. Always, always, always use your handles and never skip steps. No jumping to hurry... Also on a car fire, never nose the truck into it to use the front trash line. 75' 1-3/4'' because you cant see thru the cab to see whats going on. This is small incomparision to not being able to see a house fire on the other side of the truck. I was off duty one day and personally witnessed a house fire where the driver streched the line to the door. FF sat on it and called for water while masking up. Driver came around the truck, charged the line and the line took off. It was flailing around as the FF was trying to climb* up the line to regain control. The driver soon came strolling back around the truck to see the hose flying all around wide open. My dept has alot of radio traffic upon arrival and our hand signals with my crew works better for charging the line. I am usually able to spot kinks and see if the hose is getting hung up while they are trying to advance it in the door from the top mount. When I am around the other side of the truck I cant see crap. They are calling for more pressure and I come around the truck to find kinks that were not worked out. Not to mention, I hate standing in traffic. It really sucks on the highways. Usually, when we are first in and my crew is making a fast attack I have a very good view of the scene and the roof of the house as they make entry without leaving the top mount. I always watch the building , smoke, etc, while we operate. Sorry about the rambling, but I have an issue with this same thing in my department. I would gladly trade you my new side-mount for my old mid-mount. They are both quality trucks by Pierce. Its just my personal preference for a mid-mount. The length of the truck doesnt matter. Whats 2` on a fire truck? Its still a big truck to drive. 2' will not stop me from getting it in there. Just my opinion, take it for what its worth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M40FireMan View Post
    ......... The length of the truck doesnt matter. Whats 2` on a fire truck? Its still a big truck to drive. 2' will not stop me from getting it in there. Just my opinion, take it for what its worth.
    That may be the case in your experiences, but for some of us, 2 extra feet can be a big deal. Our newest engine has a 165" wheelbase and I know I have spots in my city in which 2 more feet of wheelbase on our engines will be a problem.

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    Thanks for all of the responses! And just as I imagined the opinions are varied, I just want our committee to make an educated decision since this could be our first top mount.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sfd1992 View Post
    I've always liked side mounts better, but that's probably because that's what we've used for most of my career. One thing to consider with a top mount could be your climate, are you going to be dealing with snow and ice 3-4 months out of the year? Climbing up and down onto snowy/icy ground and snowy/icy diamond plate is something to think about.

    We are in Alaska. Our 3 first due engines are top mount. Our 5 tankers are top mount. The only rigs we have that are still side mount, are our brush trucks, and our OLD mack. that is a reserve engine. I have never had a problem getting up and down or walking the deck in the winter.

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    Default Top Mount without a doubt.

    Top Mount; top notch

    We running a Ferrara industrial Rig with Hot-Shot Foam System and (2) deck guns on the rear. You do get a full view and the pump panel layout is a bit easier to read with both vertical and horiziontal surfaces for gauges and controls. Plus we mounted our light tower controls as well as the HRT system controls there as well.

    There are only (3) steps total; the running board then a single wide step then the panel deck. Yes it has to be cleaned on the regular and can get slippery. AL diamond plate was selected as the floor, but found turtle tiles help with the slip issue. For us the benefits out way the nuissance of going up and down...looking out at the scene from a perch, outta the way of hose lines plus the addition of more features to contol (along with a spot to hang the accountabilty board from along the back wall) make it ideal.

    We are adding a new rig in 2012, but the apparatus committee is considering a rear mount on a rescue body. Not sure where I stand on this one yet...have some homework to do.

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    Maintenance is something to consider, too. if you are on a department that does their own maintenance, side mount is MUCH easier to work on. (lift cab, remove panel.) Where as climbing into the side panel of a top mount can suck, especially if you are the small guy who gets stuck doing the climbing. Then of course top mount has the good view, and more safety from being in the road. Side mount is more convenient than climbing up and down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jgilchrist431 View Post
    Maintenance is something to consider, too. if you are on a department that does their own maintenance, side mount is MUCH easier to work on. (lift cab, remove panel.) Where as climbing into the side panel of a top mount can suck, especially if you are the small guy who gets stuck doing the climbing. Then of course top mount has the good view, and more safety from being in the road. Side mount is more convenient than climbing up and down.
    Let me know how that works with a side mount and a commercial cab. I prefer to work on a top mount over a side mount any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

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