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  1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Top Mount or side Mount Pumpers?????????

    As an engineer would you rather have a top mount or a side mount pumper, and what does your dept have? Our engineer wont have anything but a top mount, so that is what is on our truck now and that is what will be on any other pumper that we get in the future.

    George Hagerty
    CVFD and HCFR

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I personally like the top mount panels. I like to see what's happening around me at a scene. Ours were open(not in the cab). It also got you off the ground and out of traffic if you were at an accident scene. That's the only drawback to the side mounts that we are getting now. Hard to run the pump and watch your own back and what else is going on around you. But with more stuff being spec'd out it made us have to go with the side mount since we had to get Quints.

  3. #3
    Dwight Conrad
    Firehouse.com Guest


    My dept. have side mounts. But, a neighboring dept. has a top mount. I've looked at it some and have decided that I'd prefer the top mount. Just like in the last reply, you'll be out of the way of everything else, and can see what's going on around you. You can also see what's hooked up (hoses)on both sides of the truck. So, now you have my vote. Have a nice day.

    Asst. Chief Dwight Conrad
    Posey Twp. Fire Dept.
    Training Division

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Just my opinion:

    We looked at both when we bought our last engine(1995 Pierce Saber). Good arguments for both, We went for the side mount. One major consideration was that the engineer would have to be climbing up and down to connect lines, chase equipment, etc. As we work shorthanded quite often, we saw this as a drawback to the top mount. We also had to consider the extra money and overall length for the top mount. Overall, we are satisfied with the side mount but we still have a few that fuss about it.


    [This message has been edited by AVF&R452 (edited October 27, 2000).]

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I belong to two stations and both have a top mount and a side mount. The only advantage the top mount has, from my view, is it gets the Driver/Operator out of traffic. This could be more important to some Depts. than others.

    A disadvantage, to some, is the added length it adds to a truck (14 to 18").

    From a safety point of view, I can't be convinced that the top mount is better. Consider:
    * We lay a supply line. I stop at the scene.
    Engage my pump, climb up and charge my
    attack line(s).
    * I climb down and connect my LDH.
    * I climb back up and call for water (air
    horn or radio)
    * I climb back down and open my piston intake
    * I climb back up and close my tank to pump
    valve and adjust my pressures
    * In all reality I may have to get down
    several more times during the course of
    fire for various reasons.
    * Did I mention that I just performed this
    circus act at 2am and it was raining/

    I'm not convinced this is the safest way to due business. Maybe I'm old school, but, I like to be in a position where I can physically be in touch with my supply line and attack lines. And as far as the opinion that the pump operator is up and can SEE what's going on, again, I'm old school, my job is to get water, pump water and read gauges/flow meters. Not be a spectator.

    Just an opinion from a guy who pumps both.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest



    You have just described the reason that we (the engineers) argued for the side mount.

    Glad we got the side mount.


  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Red face

    SIDE MOUNT!!!!
    I prefer a side mount pump( and have worked on both), becasue the job of an Engineer isn't to stand at one point and do nothing but watch the pump.In our department, the Engineer upon arrival at a structure fire not only is responsible for charging attack lines, but also for getting the supply line hooked up, maybe getting loose equipment off(hand tools)the engine, etc. Also the engineers also change out air bottles for the crews coming out of the building. I agree i like the view from a top mount pump, and the safety it provides once up there, but the climbing up and down that often to do the other tasks associated with the job is a hazard in itself. This would be realized if you run alot of fires(my engine as of 10/31/00 has run 153 structure fires so far this year.A top mount might be more practical for a slow department with less than 20 structures a year.Not to mention what an engineer does on car fires, and other "still" calls, ie; getting tools off for the crew, setting out traffic cones, etc.
    Another point already made was the added length added to an Engine.In the urban areas turning radius is still important to make those narrow streets,turns, alleys, etc.I guess it depends on what the area is like. As for the protection of being up on the truck while pumping, and out of traffic....well nearly all instances of this can be overcome by properly positioning the apparatus to block traffic.There are advantages to both, but I've worked on both, and can honestly say that the side mount pumps are better for a more efficient operation of the Engineer.

    just a thought..maybe a rear mount would let you see both sides of the firegound, and still allow you to be on the ground to do the other tasks.

    My own opinions, not of my dept.

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Don't operate a top mount, but I would think that climbing up and down when getting a feed line would get old quick. The added length of the truck is a big minus also. We have all side mounts. I would also think some of the older operators that have bad knees would also object after a few trips back and forth.

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I am career FF and a volunteer chief. At my job I have been responsible for spec'ing apparatus and have really insisted on the sidemount for all the mentioned reasons. An operator of a career 3 person crew has too many responsibilities to be standing by the pump panel. Theres hose to feed, tools to fetch, rehab to get ready for your crew and on and on.

    In the vollie dept we are hoping to spec a new apparatus and there is a strong push for a walkthrough. The arguement is that our operators need to stay close to the pump panel and stay focused on one task - operating the pump. Again I have put forward these pros/cons.

    Better visibility with a walk through

    How do you open a hydrant line (w/o an electric gate valve) w/o spiking the pressure on the hand lines?

    How do know you are dumping water on the ground (open drain, overfilling tank) as soon when you are on top of the truck?

    Is the average cost of $2500 for a walkthru (w/o the electric gate valves) and the extra 2' of length worth it?

    Any other thoughts specifically geared towards a small vollie dept.


    [This message has been edited by Corvin (edited November 02, 2000).]

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Both of our tanker/pumpers have top-mount AND enclosed pump panels.There is nothing like pumping at a fire on a cold winter's night while you are sitting inside the crew cab area , nice and warm.

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We have both a top mount and a side mount. Our new pumpe, on order, is going to be top mount as well. I prefer side mount. I think it is dangerous to have the engineer climbing up and down repeatedly at three o'clock in the morning in the ice and snow. I like to have easy access to all the compartments.

  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Having specified and laying out the apparatus I find the operators like the side pump panel until they can't see what's going on at a job. Then they want to be operating from the top mount. Age is becomming a problem too. The constant up and down until the engine is set and running is a pain. The younger guys mind it less. Our first out is side and water supply peice has the top. Narrow streets, row homes, tight parking are a problem too, this calls for shorter wheelbase. This is what drives the setup in my department.

    AC52 your not old school your just getting old.
    By the way you belong to Goodwill Hose Company No. 3.
    Just wanted to clarify.

  13. #13
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Hey GTStang

    We have one top mount enclosed pump on the career dept I serve with. We were in transition with chiefs and another Lt was able to slip it in. I doubt we will ever buy another one again.

    Nothing is more anoying than needing a hook, or another light or something else, coming to the door of the building to ask the engineer for it and finding out they are in la la land up in the pump panel. Or my other favorite, we started handlines off the booster tank, the second engine makes the supply connection (w/o the help of the engineer who is "way up and out of touch") and the engineer begins to fill the tank. He or she can usually find out the tank is full when the water running on the ground makes a big enough puddle to be seen from up top. Same as an accidentally left open drain line - the never know it up there.

  14. #14
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I prefr side mounts. All the reasons why have already been listed and I agree with them. After making my first hydrant hook up on a top mount I decided that I didn't like em. I've seen enough firefighting and could care less about seeing the fire ground.

    I don't know why but it seems that many rural and volunteer companies prefer the top mount. Myabe its becuse length in rural areas is not a major concern.

    I do not buy the argument that it gets you out of traffic. One of my goals in apparatus positioning is to protect my crew and myself with the position of the apparatus. If you need to be in the area of the pump panel and you are concerned about traffic maybe one should shut the road down or close the lane.

    See ya

  15. #15
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We run top mount, I don't mind it, but being short and all, I don't like the climbing, and for the most part, I find cross-lays more of a pain to load on a top mount. I have another Idea I'd like to throw out there now.

    Why not go a side-mount with electronic valves from Akron? you can have the shortened length of a side-mount, and then position the operator wherever you want. I'd personally look into putting the pump panel at the rear of the apparatus. The operator is away from the pump and engine noise, can watch both two or three sides of the apparatus depending on where they stand, and pump operation is simplified. This means that a firefighter with less experience can watch the pump, and the more experienced person can do some "work."

    These valves are more expensive, but also more precise. If you really want to get "complex" you can put the valve for the outlet at the outlet...

    Just food for thought.


  16. #16
    J Almon
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I prefer side mounts. We draft in rural settings, so they are easier to work than top mounts.
    Visibility of the scene is unimportant. The engineer has a radio, and gauges. They should have the training to tell what is happening. Besides, even if the engineer sees a structure on fire, he can't see inside it.
    We don't have one, but the rear mount concept is interesting.
    I don't buy the top mount gets you out of traffic point. If the car is close enough to clip an engineer at a side mount position, they are too close for a person in a top mount. Close the road and save a life.

  17. #17
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I know alot of people dont like top mounted pump cause of saftey reason's but i have used both and i tend to lean towards the top mounted pumps better.Cause of the view at the scene and also protected from vehicle's from hitting you.But you all so have a good view of the scene and what your people need from you yeah i know you got headsets or even radio's but i found out at least here that we don't have them on our truck or there down for repair's at least i can tell by visualing the scene but i cant not do it on the other side.

  18. #18
    Firehouse.com Guest


    This may seem backwards compared to some of the previous posts, but...

    Volunteer dept. 1 station primary district is an old town now a bedroom community. Good water supply w/hydrants. Except for a small area of the "old towne" area, relatively wide suburban streets, plus 2 state highways (2-3 lane). Also good daytime turnout from members that worked in the town. Their engine was a Pierce top-mount w/750gal tank and 1000gpm pump on a Ford chassis (6 man cab). The extra length didn't really matter except on main street in the old town's downtown area, but that's where the station was, so not a big deal.

    My station was 4 miles NW of there on one of the state hiways. We were part suburban, part rural. Streets were straight, corners wide, but hydrants non-existant. Also, members that responded to our station tended to work days, so man-power was a problem. Our first due was a Seagrave custom, mid-engine, 1250 gal. booster and 1500gpm pump. Because of the mid-engine, it only had a 5 man cab (3 in front + 2 jump seats, and wear your earplugs!). The extra water came in handy, and if we got extra personnel to the station, 2nd due out was 3000gal Mack tanker, so we didn't really miss the extra seat.

    But because of the bigger tank and mid-engine, this one was actually LONGER than the Pierce. I was FAO for 3 yrs and never had a problem with getting it in or out.

    As far as fireground control, it had a pressure governor rather than a relief valve and dual pump controls. Once you had the pump engaged and primed, throttle set and governor set, you could switch to the right side of the pumper and work preconnect valves or intakes from there. Even if you stayed on the left side, I usually stood on the running board (easier to reach the top of the panel, and could then see over the mid-mount engine compartment. And I agree, one step down is better than 3 or 4.

  19. #19
    Firehouse.com Guest


    If the only reason everyone likes top mounted pumps is to be able to see both sides of the pumper; well, get a rear mounted pump. all controls can be put on the rear of most manufacturers rigs. You are tought in the beginning to drive past the scene to be able to see three sides so the front of the truck won't be a problem. If a department has enough manpower (and who does anymore) to leave someone dedicated to only pump panel work, thats all well and good but hard to find these days.

    If rear mount pump panels are of interest to you, Precision fire apparatus makes a rear mount combination pumper that packs a punch. try www.precisionfireapparatus.com
    for more information

  20. #20
    Firehouse.com Guest



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