1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question Riding on Trucks?

    The picture Captain Hickman posted in the "Brush Trucks and Gear" topic made me think. From the picture, it doesn't look as though the truck is set up to accommodate fighting fire from a moving platform, and if that is the case, I applaud it. My question is what is your departments SOP/SOG regarding where the person on the nozzle attacks a fire from. On the ground walking or on the truck? Why or why not? If you ride on the truck, are you on a front bumper platform, in the back or somewhere else? What kind of safety measures have you put in place for the person on the nozzle?

    After living in several states working for a few different agencies and VFD's, I've seen and done it both ways. Having said that, my personal opinion is that without a full roll cage and harness, firefighters have no business riding outside an enclosed cab. Walking next to the truck also gives me a better feel for how well I am extinguishing the fireline.

    If you've got specific examples, pro or con, I think this is a great forum to get them out to other folks.

  2. #2
    Captain Hickman
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Our department DOES NOT allow riding on the equipment at anytime. If you ride, you ride inside. We feel it is safer for someone to be on the ground to the left side of the rig while moving. That's where the driver can see his personnel and they can also communicate with the driver. Most of our units are equiped with intercoms and radio interface systems. During fire operations, where someone is on the ground working with the rig, drivers are required to remove their headsets so they can communicate both visually and orally with their firefighter. Sometimes, firefighter work a little to the left and behind. Usually if working behind the rig, the reel line is a backup line for a short line operated by the driver.
    If drivers are operating by themselves, they can operate the short handline, which is equiped with a pistol grip nozzle simular to a garden hose nozzle only larger. They can still communicate over the radio by a press to talk button on the floor. On a moving grass fire they can drive, operate a handline, and communicate on the radio.
    On all wildland operations using vehicles, we remain in the BLACK if at all possible and avoid getting ahead of the fire.

    Be Safe...

    [This message has been edited by Captain Hickman (edited March 12, 2000).]

    [This message has been edited by Captain Hickman (edited March 12, 2000).]

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    From experience, I realize that our operations are undoubtedly in the minority, however, I should report that here in NJ, especially in the Pine Barrens, the firefighter rides in a compartment behind the cab, and ahead of the tank. Communications with the driver are either verbal through the open driver's side window, or through the sliding rear window, or else through the use of hand signals.
    The firefighter rides to the fireline inside the cab, then climbs into the crew compartment. It is important that the ff has a full complement of safety gear on, including goggles and gloves, and that the engine carries no more personnel than can fit in the cab.
    The reason for this is that in the barrens, we commonly deal with fuel types that merge between brush and timber, are extremely volatile, and are usually very dense. The engine is required to push through the woods, and attempting to walk beside the engine is likely impossible, in front of it is dangerous due to the trees being pushed over, and behind dangerous to both engine and crew due to lack of communication, as well as the inability to protect the engine from the fire, or to be able to terminate the attack if conditions should change.
    The ff's primary assignment is to suppress the fire immediately ahead of the truck. If a secondary ff is aboard, he will watch to the rear, as well as for spots.
    Fighting fire from the black is normal for fires in light fuels here, but when in the Pines, we must attack from the green, since the amount of burning material left by the passing flame front is usually substantial, and represents a danger to the engine and crew if you attempt to operate over it.
    I know, it sounds contrary to what most of us have been taught, however we have perfected these tactics over 50 years of dealing with our fuels and fires, and we have been able to manage the fire problem in our state.
    Each of us has to respond to our particular fire problem in our own way, what works for one agency may not work for another, however I am always learning, and I continue to watch this forum for that reason, as well as others.
    The only images I have come from an effort we are completing to produce a video for a wildland engine operators' course. Unfortunately, they are too large to include here. If interested, I can be contacted at:
    Keep up the good work, and be safe.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I really believe 2 person engine crews are designed for disaster. My upbringing has been in the wildland fire suppression and prescribed fire side, and without exception I feel the risk to injury, etc. is much greater with 2 rather 3 crew people. I believe the LCES acronym is good if defined, and it is not when we direct 2 people to focus on the front and immediate 1 side of where they located during a mobile attack. The 3rd individual is necessary to watch both flanks, and back trail for flare-ups, spots, and button hooks. With 2 people, I see riding on the engine a safe posture for the outside fireman. This is especially true when approaching and attacking from the fuel side. A good example is the Kelly York Story, a video worth watching. If you are fortunate enough to enter the fire side and progress safely, then firefighter on the ground moving just ahead of the engine for sure. Othewrwise, statistics bear me out, it is just a matter of time before the something undesireable happens.

  5. #5
    Aerial 131
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The volunteer department I belong to use to have us on the trucks riding around back in 1980. This had been happening for 30 years. In 1993 we had a horrible death due to this. The truck rolled 8 ++ times. The Chief and many of the departments personnel, saw the writing on the wall and we went through a massive total change of how our vehicles were used and designed. Now we ride to the fire and fight from the ground, digging line, burning line, laying foam, dozers, airplanes(WA state rotor & USFS tankers), burnout, hose lines from truck with backpacks of hose, you name it and we do it, but we do not ride on the trucks to fight fire, never again. Many of the departments in the area took the same approach when we changed over, the risk was just to much, better to train to keep one foot in the black than have a fatility occur. Once was way to much and those departments that still fight from the truck are taking a chance to great. They are just waiting for the when.

    As far as where the nozzle man is working from, we work around the area of the front bumper corner, as much as possible from the driver's side. It is safer and more easy to communicate with the driver.

    Everyone be careful this year, to many deaths in 1999.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    To eliminate the need to ride on the outside we installed front mounted spray bars on the brush trucks, these are activated via a dash switch and there is a spray bar on each side of the front bumper.

    Now this does not always work, especially in areas of thick brush or duff, in which we must utilized tactics where a firefighter on a handline is walking in the black.

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I'm from South Australia...have a look at our pictures on our homepage....they are sure different to your units in the states......external firefighting and all.


  8. #8
    Aerial 131
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I don't think there are two wildland fire rigs anywhere, everyone has different needs and uses of the basic model. Take a look at www.hanford.gov/fire/index.htm or www.bcfd1.ourwest.com/ for interesting and useful ones of this Washington State area.

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Thanks for the replies folks. How about some follow-up questions.

    Aerial 131, sorry to hear it took the worst possible outcome to make the change happen. That seems to be what it takes anymore but I'm hoping I can get it done before it comes to that. Any chance you would have any more info you could send to me? Newspaper articles, reports, etc. Any information would be helpful ammo.

    For everyone, how do you go about getting people to change their minds? I have the disadvantage of being younger than most of the folks I'm trying to convince and I think that works against me. I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard "We've been doing it this way since before you were born." I'd be a wealthy man now. The way we plan to attack the problem now is to begin locally, with my own department and work out from there. We plan to build our own truck and install front nozzles and spray bars. Possibly side spary bars too. Maybe if we can show it in action, it will have more punch.

    Anyway, thanks again for the help. We got some decent rain here today so maybe our runs on "controlled" burn bonus acres will slow down now. Stay safe.


  10. #10
    Aerial 131
    Firehouse.com Guest


    KS wildlandfire, you could check the
    Tri City Herald of Kennewick, Washington back in 1993 just after the 4th of July, it should be front page for several days. Also, would you like the 1999 NIFC Safety Gram regarding the Near Misses, shelter deployments, and deaths for wildfire. Just email me and I can send.

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Red face

    I like to wait and see the responses to questions like "Riding on the Outside of Trucks." The responses are usually of great interest and share thoughts and ideas for us all to contemplate.

    Where I live, in southeastern Massachusetts where W/UI is to the extreme in many areas, the brush trucks of choice are called, "Brush Breakers." This type of rig has been used by the firefighters in this region for over 50 years. I might add, very successfully and there have been no LODDs during their use and few injuries. These specialized vehicles provide relatively safe operations and are essential for effective fire attack in the woodlands and pine barrens of this region. Firefighters ride in protected compartmentalized areas behind the truck's cab. Firefighters use short hose lines and hit the fire as the Brush Breakers slowly move along the fire's flanks until the fire's "head" is reached. It is safer than walking in a dangerous fire environment.

    If you'll look back in some of the past issues of FIREHOUSE and WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER Magazines, you can locate some of my past articles that detail the use of Brush Breaker operations. They are a unique vehicle that solve a unique fire problem.


    [This message has been edited by SWIDFCWINS (edited May 01, 2000).]

  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest


    There are regulations as to people riding on the outside of trucks?

    We put people where ever they will fit! The front, the back, the sides, the top fits alot of people I don't see anything wrong with it, just watch the low branches.

    [This message has been edited by Fireguy57 (edited May 09, 2000).]

  13. #13
    Firehouse.com Guest


    In Washington we are not allowed to ride on the outside of apparatus for obvious safety reasons.
    The front bumper mounted "stinger" style nozzle seems to be the best (current) technology out there right now.
    I think you would agree that piling firefighters on top or all over an apparatus is unsafe at best.
    However: Walking along side of apparatus can be very dangerous in smokey conditions also. If I recall there was a LODD related to this.
    As some of the posts state; communications and awareness are paramount out there.
    Stay safe

  14. #14
    Phil Daniels
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I always cringe when I hear about firefighters riding unrestrained to, from, or during a response. When I started 15 some odd years ago, it was common place for people to ride on the front of our Type 6. In fact the truck has (still) a platform for the firefighter to stand on. The writing on the wall was read and clearly understood, when at low speed, one firefighter was thrown from the truck while spraying water. As a result, no one rides on our apparatus unless enclosed in a cab and wearing a seat belt.

    There are many options to having extra riders 1) purchasing a remote control nozzle. 2) having the passenger hold a booster line out the side window, or 3) getting out of the truck and actually walking beside the driver. Our latest truck has a short, 10', section of 1 1/2 for that very purpose...

    Just a thought...

  15. #15
    Firehouse.com Guest


    My department operates 'Stump Jumpers' probably sinilar to the 'Brush Breakers' mentioned above. They are converted 5-Ton army trucks with a roll cage and crew consists of driver & OIC plus minimum of 2 maximum of 4 FF on the back. We fight the fire from inside the roll cage. I will post more specs and a picture when I scan one in.

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