1. #1
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    Default top mount or side mount

    My department back in 95 bought a top mount pumper. everyone fell in love with it. so now we bought 2 new ones and both of those are top mounts also. i personally like topmounts cause u are out of the way from all the lines. also u dont have to go all the way around the truck to work off the other side.. just wanted to see what everyone else thought about them.
    "ladders don't put out fires! water puts out fires! Engine companies rule!"
    LHFD Sta. 3 E-202

  2. #2
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    I personnally like a side mount. I would rather be on the ground. I pumped with a neighboring departments engine one night and there was several things that I did not like. The light bars are at eye level and blinded the pump operator, their diamond plate got slippery when wet and muddy causing a potential accident, every time a firefighter needed to talk to me he/she had to climb up onto the truck and the last item that really bothered me was I like to be close to my intake and discharge hoses, gauges are not always right and you can feel when a hose loses pressure.

    Of course there has got to be some advantages to a top mount, I just never worked with them that much.

    Lt. Chris Schultz
    Riverview Fire

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    The LT has some valid points. I have never worked with a top mount either, but I can say there would definitaly be some major advantages as well. Being able to see the entire fire ground would be one. You can keep a good eye on where your lines are going and who is on them. If your pump operator ends up doing accountability, being able to see everything is a major help. I seen one demo model with "blinders" that the pump operator up could swing up in order to keep the lights from flashing in his face.

    Our Engine has a side mount pump. I guess when it was spected out a side mount was ordered to keep the wheel base short, and thus give it its excelent turning radios that it has. It turns tighter then our F-350. Since my department is 20 times more likely to respond to an MVA on the highway then a structure fire, I think it was a good trade off.
    "No one ever called the Fire Department for doing something smart..."

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    I'll through a twist in it . We have side, top and now a rear mount. Most of the guys like the rear mount. All the advantages of a side mount plus the visability ( if you pull by and leave the front for the truck) of a top mount plus a shorter wheel base.
    Just my thoughts
    SBLG

  5. #5
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    I have never worked with a rear mount. Our old pumper used to be front mount. We all hated that thing. It was alway loud right near the truck engine. Not to get off topic, but how loud do things get at the back of the unit?
    "No one ever called the Fire Department for doing something smart..."

  6. #6
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    well we got 2 side mounts( mine and big daddy(that's the nickname for our other pumper)) but a f.d. near us have a top mount and they we're called to a barn fire and we used their new top mount pumper to pump into tankers. I liked it better than the side mount. it was a International chassis 4 door on a E-one body. The neat part where you stood facing the back of the truck so all your pump controls(your levers and gauges) so the lightbar didn't blind you.all of there lights on the rear are lower so those didn't mess with your vision. personally if i was ordering a truck i'd go with top mount but it would have to be mounted same way as this f.d. because that looking into a running lightbar for 2-3 hours does get annoying.

  7. #7
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    I've worked on both top mount and side mount pumps, and I have to cast my vote for the side mounts. I like being on the ground where I could keep an eye on the lines better, keep an eye on what's going on around the engine, and I also do not like climbing up and down every time I need to check a guage, charge a line, etc. Perhaps they may be safer for the pump operator on limited access highways, but you trade off that safety factor for the slip and fall hazards associated with the top mounts. As with most tools we use in the fire service, they both get the job done and it ends up being a matter of personal preference more than anything.

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    My dept. has 2 top mount pumpers, our tanker/tender is side mount (drivers side) and a grass rig/qick response unit that has a rear mount. Out of all of the different styles I like the top mount the best. On ours all the guages are mounted so you can watch everything with out physically moving your location, also when your on top you can keep aware of your suroundings on all sides-the only draw back is that you are exposed to the elements more, but an enclosed operators cab would solve that-considering it is constructed in such a manner not to block your view of all side-such as some new trucks do.
    I don't get paid-the hours are terrible-but I'm doing what I enjoy, and that's good enough for me!

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    I have had the oppourtunity to work with both top and side mount pumps. I don't mind the side mounts but for safety purposes the top is better as it gets you out of the way of some guy chatting to his girl on his cell phone while eating a donut and steering with his knee!! The only thing that makes a top mount pump a little less desirable is the winter weather here as you are exposed to elements while with a side mount you can have some shelter from the wind but even thats repairable with an enclosed pump panel.

  10. #10
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    In 1998 we bought our first top mount, most everyone loves it. I personally would rather have the side mount controls. I am one of the few who usually pump the top mount and hate the having to climb up and down all the time, this would not be a problem if you have a rookie or older guy to help you setting up. The advantage's of the top mount do make it a better option than a sidemount for those long sustained operations. I pumped it for 9 hours at a large dump fire once and loved being on the top mount and seeing what was going on all around the truck.
    Firefighter/NREMT-P/Public Safety Diver
    May we ride into the darkness only to return as safe as we started!!

  11. #11
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    I too have worked both and I too hate the constant climbing up and down. In our Dept. most of the time when someone from another engine company comes to you for a piece of equipment it is usually faster for the operator to go get it than try to tell the other person that the thing of a-ma-jig is in the right (no the other right) rear upper compartment on the second shelf behind the air wrench box but on top of the salvage cover or was that under the cover, and the light's not working so you have to feel for it.... I'm sure you get the point. Plus the top mounts take away alot of our top side storage that we used to have, now we don't even have booster reels, no extra foam, and the shovels and brooms were either eliminated or had to go into compartments. As for the safety issue of getting people out of the traffic, I read the firehouse site daily and can't remember the last time I have read of this type of accident. Pump runaways are a different story, and I don't think a top mount would prevent this. Plus if a top mount was the end all problem solver then where did the idea of a rear mount come from? Now instead of getting side swiped your getting crushed between two vehicles. I haven't read about to many of these either. Another problem I have experienced is that you really can't see the hose trays to see if all of the hose is cleared before you charge the line, so now you must get down again just to check that. Here's another, way do the manufacturer's still put the labels for each load on the sides of the trucks instead of inside of the beds facing forward so they can be seen by the top mount operator? The bottom line is I started on a side mount for 12 years and now have a top mount for the past 8 and I still don't like it.

  12. #12
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    Both of them have their advantages as have already been stated. We have sidemounts. When I pump, I generally have a knee against the pump inlet line. I like the idea of being able to feel the line before the gauges react. A GOOD trade off for me would being able to see the firegrounds, ie; what line is going where, is my yellow 2 1/2 or red 2 1/2 going inside the building, what line can I cut back if I start to lose water, those kinds of things.
    As far as being (with appologies to Manfred Mann and Bruce Springsteen) "blinded by the light", my company sells an item that for only three thousand dollars (ballpark), that will prevent, that's right, PREVENT - 100 % MONEY BACK GUARANTEEthe rotators or strobes on your apparatus from blinding you while you are pumping from your top mounted pump. It's a NEW INVENTION! It's called a SWITCH!

  13. #13
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    Some good paoints made here for any Dept considering a new pumper. A few other points to consider:

    Our KME has enclosed jump seats easily accessable from the top mount area. On those super cold nights in the blowing snow I can don the headset , get inside, and watch all the gauges. This is a very nice feature when pumping in relay for long durations.

    When using portable ponds the top mount keeps me out of the way of the water officer, congestion, and tanker traffic, as well as a commanding view of my water supply situation.

    When standing above, with a top mount, the chances of being struck with a hose coupling being pulled from a preconnect is eliminated. Our side mount panels have pre-connects above the panel area.

    As far as up and down is concerned there's not too much difference unless your panel is on the fireground side. 50% of the time the panel is on the opposite side so your jumping up and down to see what's going on on the other side. This is not the case with a top mount. When the fireground is on the panel side you can't beat a side panel. Your on the ground, seeing all the action, and no up and down.

    We have a front monut too. This is a nasty rig in the winter. If your not completely drained you arrive with a block of ice, not a pump. Before you leave the fireground you better be fully drained too, or you'll be putting a block of ice back in service. The front mount is a awesome rig for getting up to and sometimes into farm ponds. You can quickly pull water and most of the time with no more than 1 or 2 lengths of suction. Now if you get too close, you get water fast and efficienty, little loss to elevation, but your a little water logged at the end of the day (or night). Some front mounts can also be a little tricky is you cannot see the full extension of the assembly. You may pull in too close, or not close enough. One things for sure, when you pull into your water source you've got the worst view of the action. Just you and the fish. Yeah, about that noise thing, don't even get on the radio mic on the front panel.

    The best way to decide is 1) can you afford choice? If yes, you've got a decision, if not take whatever you can afford and make it work. If you have a choice go TRY a few options, get the folks that will do 60-80% of the operation to try a few. Finally, let the folks who'll be operating make the final call. They've got to live with their decision. There is no best, just options some like better than others. Don't let the department non-users or chief opinion people make the call. They're not stakeholders.

    Former volunteer who moved to the big city and misses the VFS, but spent 14 years running the pump. That's the beauty of living next door!

  14. #14
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    Top mount WITH a cab, the only way to go up here in frosty old Canada in the depth of winter. Keeps you out of the elements and stupid drivers.

  15. #15
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    Our Canadian brother has reminded me that the top mounts are also nasty to stand on in a winter blizzard, your standing on top of truck instead of next to it, no wind break. And another point is if you have any rural roads consider the top mount adding about 2 feet to the length of your truck, a big differance on them dirt roads, when turning around or making a swing into the driveway is needed. I can remember a call we backed our engine about 1/2 mile down a road becouse we couldn't turn it around.
    Firefighter/NREMT-P/Public Safety Diver
    May we ride into the darkness only to return as safe as we started!!

  16. #16
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    Count me in for the top mount. We currently run 3 with 2 of them on a Ferrara chassis. Everything is right there, easy to work with and field of vision is great. Depending on your department, if you have a commercial cab or a custom cab with a raised roof the light bar won't blind you. And as far as the diamond plating on the floor, there are many styles that can suit your needs, or go with the punched style (I don't know the technical name for it). But it actually all boils down to a departments needs and budget. Getting water where it needs to go is really all that matters.

  17. #17
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    we have always had a top mount, and I definitely like the increased visability and staying out of the way of the hoses. Our new Engine is a top mount with a slider door between the crew cab and the pump panel. Helps keep you dry in inclement weather.

  18. #18
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    I've used both top and side mounted pumps. The first 5-10 minutes on the scene are hard with a top mount due to the amount of climbing up and down to charge lines with tank water, establish draft or supply line, etc. However, after that I really prefer the visibility and safety of being on top. It also gives me a chance to adjust our pole mounted flood lights without leaving the panel. If we go to master stream operations, I can do that easily too. I've not had a problem with the lightbar being a distraction. Like someone said, I just switch off the lights. There are tons of other apparatus around, and typically the engine is near the middle of the scene.
    Proud to be honored with IACOJ membership. Blessed by TWO meals cooked by Cheffie - a true culinary goddess. Expressing my own views, not my organization's.

  19. #19
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    while there have been some good pros and cons to the debate i have a few that i have not seen such as limited manpower... i have been a officer for 15 of the 23 years i have been in the sevice and i have used front , side and the top mount pumps and if you have a full compliment of firefighters the side mount is good but in the here and now with limited personel the top mount has the upper hand...on daytime calls as a officer i still drive alot and the topmount pump i can still take command of the scene with a better view than being flatfooted and the mutual aid company officers become my eyes on the other side of the incident as for the up and down once the lines are connected the panel controls the valves so you are not jumpin up and down in our station the top mount is the best for our needs BUT as every call is diffrent so are the needs of every dept. when you find something that works well for you and you troops why change it.. dont get me wrong i like the side mount pumps..tradition and all but with the dwindling numbers of the die hard volunteers adaption is the best policy and the topmounts give flexibility that the others dont<br /> this is my view and opinion and it works for us<br />it may not work for you.

  20. #20
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    Go for the top mount.We have had both,the last two engines are top mount. First the visibiltly you cant beat plus the safety especially on major roadwyays. As to having to climb up and down is no worse than running around the rig 1000 times. Fire katz took my thunder ,yes turn off the lights. There is NO reason at a fire scene tohave the lights on putting undo strain on the chargining system. At a working fire the street is blocked off so who are you stopping.

  21. #21
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    The idea of a full size engine with a rear panel seems to be asking for troble depending on your hosebed layout and the type of area you are covering. Having survived without a major injury from being pinned against the back of a truck on an interstate this is not a configuration I would be happy with. <img src="eek.gif" border="0">
    W J Vaughn

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  22. #22
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    In my department we operate side, top and rear mount pumps. I have worked with all of them. Each does have advantages and disadvantages so to me it comes down to personal preference based on experience. When I started we operated only side pumps they we not complicated to operate (everything was in arms reach). The side pump also kept the wheelbase short. That pumper can turn on a dime. Visibility wasn't bad I only had to walk a couple steps to see the other side of the vehicle. You do run the risk of being exposed to traffic now and then. If a hose breaks at the panel that could be bad as well. <br /> We then bought a top mount, it is wonderful to have all the controls and gauges inline with each other and visibility is great. The biggest problem I experienced is changing from tank to hydrant water, there is no way to provide a smooth transition if you are alone (the engineer has to go back and forth from the panel to the LDH intake making adjustments in throttle, gating down the water tank and opening the LDH appliance). It also increases the wheelbase and overall length of the vehicle. This was not a issue in 1985 when we bought it(pumper-tanker)the area was rural with open roads and conjestion was not bad at all. Now our community is more residential subdivisions with winding roads and culdesacs that are made smaller with islands in them. The top mount trucks have a harder time dealing with them and the cars that are parked all over the place.<br /> I know this was not part of your question but the rear mount is currently the pumper I am assigned. The visibiltiy is wonderful but it is not good to have the operator and hose teams competing for space at the back of the rig (everyone is in the way of everyone)The intakes and discharges for the LDH interfere in deploying hose. The rear mount pump also takes away potential storage space in my opinion for the bulky items like hydraulic spreaders and reels. <br /> If I could, I would take the side mount pumper now in reserve and reurn it to front line service and the next new pump would be a side mount. I do believe for my communtiy it would offer the most advantage for the forseeable future.

  23. #23
    OLE
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    At our department we have 2 top mounts,a side mount and a rear mount. I guess my main hang up is the ability to see the whole incident which a top mount and a rear mount does.... but sometimes a side mount does not. The pump operator really shouldn't be climbing up and down behind the pump panel a whole lot so that really isn't a problem. Sometimes the exhaust gets to ya on a side/rear mount and not as bad on a top mount. The lights are to your back on our top mount and you're just higher up to see more than you would on a side mount.....Just my own opinion.....

  24. #24
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    Fort Worth has the solution, a top side mount. You can kinda get the gist of it here: <a href="http://www.fortworthfire.com/gallery/pics/607.JPG" target="_blank">http://www.fortworthfire.com/gallery/pics/607.JPG</a>
    It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

  25. #25
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    "The visibiltiy is wonderful but it is not good to have the operator and hose teams competing for space at the back of the rig (everyone is in the way of everyone)"

    So put the pre-connects up front, put the panel on the side (rear) or in the cab, and nobody has to get in the way.

    <br />"The intakes and discharges for the LDH interfere in deploying hose."

    Not if they are setup right. Enclose them or extend the end of the hose bed a little if they are in the way.

    <br />"The rear mount pump also takes away potential storage space in my opinion for the bulky items like hydraulic spreaders and reels."

    Those can be mounted up front too. Or in any compartment for that matter.

    <br />I'm not saying that you are wrong in liking a side mount, just that you should look for some simple solutions to the problems you are having before ruling out the rear mount.

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