1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Quebec City, QC. Canada

    Default How to build a haz mat truck

    Hello everybody! I'm a lieutenant for the Quebec City fire departement in Canada, currently working on the haz mat compagny. We are beginning the process to purchase a new vehicule. Some people in our departement want a tractor-trailer combination and some other want a "walk-in rescue" alike truck. I would like to have your opinion about this subject. Wich kind of truck seem to be the best? Do you work with tractor-trailer and what comments can you give me about that? Do you think that a tractor-trailer is the best or do you think that a "Rescue truck" is the best? Any other comment would be welcome.

    My compagny respond to an average 2200 call per year. We go on haz mat incident but we also respond as part of fire response in the vast majority of our city. We have a lot of narrow streets, lot of snow in the winter.

    Waiting for your comments. Can you also join with it, the kind of truck you use for haz mat and the city where your work and some infos about your departement( staffing, numbers of runs,etc.)

    Thanks a lot; Eric Savard, Quebec City, Canada

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 2000
    Wheaton IL


    Stay away from trailers, we use a trailer and it just doesn't work well.

    My choice would be a heavy rescue type of rig.

    Chicago's looks good.
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  3. #3
    Forum Member
    mdcook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Finger Lakes Region, NY

    Post Haz Mat truck

    I agree with the above reply about trailers. The State of New York has been slowly passing out trailers to haz mat/wmd teams through out NY. So far, I have not been impressed with the idea of a trailer. You have to find some one willing to risk their POV that has the braking system all ready installed or try to get the politicians to part with some money to buy a big enough truck to tow it. Your off the self half ton pick up just won't cut it.
    I would suggest you contact the Haz Mat team in Monroe County, NY (Rochester area). They have several very nice trucks. One looks similar to the above picture. They designed their own and did a very good job. Hope this helps you.

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Orlando, FL


    Both designs have their pros and cons.

    Tractor-Trailer (beer truck style preferrable)

    PROS: Flexible compartment arrangement and office location. Limited maintenance downtime, have a rental company on call for use of a tractor while the unit is being repaired.

    CONS: Additional driver training. No access to compartments from cab. Limited cab configurations. If the unit is strictly designated for HazMat access should not be an issue as the crew will not need to dress out in route.

    Rescue Style

    PROS: Multiple cab configurations. Single chassis usually requires no additional driver training. Office can be located in cab area. Walk through design, a nice option for units with multiple functions (fire, extrication).

    CONS: When unit needs maintenance entire inventory must be transferred to another rig. Long wheelbase limits access on narrow streets.


    1. Fixed compartment and shelf setups (flexibilty is a must)
    2. Tall units. Our HazMat is 11'11" and our Heavy Rescue is 12'4", this creats problems in areas with overhead concerns.
    3. Tall compartments. Make sure all compartment space is within reasonable reaching height.
    4. Split-Cab-Tilt systems. The office for our truck is the rear half of the cab. For maintenance the front half tilts so that the office remains undisturbed. This seal has been an ongoing leak issue which the manufacturer has been unable to resolve.
    5. Avoid locating office near engine compartment to reduce noise.


    1. Overhead stack for exhaust.
    2. Desk and compartment/bookshelf for reference materials.
    3. Cellular phone and fax capability.
    4. Climate controlled storage for meters and other sensitive equipment.
    5. Retractable awnings to provide cover for teams.
    6. Atleast one "pass-through" compartment for long items.

    Recommended builders are Hackney and Saulsbury, they have alot of experience with large rigs.

    Hope this helps. Stay safe!

    Derek Schaumann
    Orlando Fire Department
    Orlando, FL
    450 combat firefighters
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  5. #5
    Forum Member
    Engine101's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Monrovia Ca



    Those are the new haz mat's that LA County fire is rolling the trailors can detach from the cab

  6. #6
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Charlotte, NC, Mecklenburg

    Thumbs up we have both

    Our city has four hazmat trucks. Two of them are spartans with salisbury style bodies. One is a tractor trailer and the fourth is still in the making. The first two are great because they are quick and get the job done in a hurry. The problem is the amount of equipment carried on the tractor trailor is divided among the two smaller trucks. The tractor is good but does create driver problems and is slow to get there. the fourth truck that is still in the process is going to be a hazmat engine. Like a rescue pumper the hazmat engine will have two duties. Yes it cuts back on the amount of equipment but it eliminates the need for a second truck (what i mean is each crew mans an engine or a ladder plus their hazmat). Also the cost factor makes it available to have several hazmat engines backed up by a tractor trailer. I will keep you posted on our trials

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