1. #1
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    Default Top or Side Mount Pump

    Looking for answer to coffee table debate I had the other day.

    First, Is there any standards out there that state that the driver should be elevated and off the road when pumping. I can not find anything like that in 1901 or 1500 except for quints needing a pull out step because of grounding when the aerial is up.

    Next, I cant find many other urban cities with top mount pumps. We have tight streets and alot of hills. We have been specifying top mount pumps since 86. Recently we have been specing trying to shorten our apparatus. The results were higher hosebeds,crosslays, and loss of the the front bumper and a shorter rear step. Also with the raised cabs and ladder racks, the old pro of a 360 view is no longer a pro.

    I myself would prefer a side mount pump. The top mount pump causes the driver to get lazy in their positioning, they no longer position to protect. The top mount has the driver get up and down several times at a fire, this also happens to be our number one injury on the job. And the top mount increases the length, causing us to sacrifice hosebeds, crosslay heights, etc.. The side mount shortens the pumper keeps things low, and if the driver positions short or past the fire building, all he or she has to do is take a few steps back and they should be able to see the building.

    Well, if anyone knows of any standards, pleas let me know. Also lets hear what you prefer, and be sure to state what type of topograghy you have.

    Thanks

    Jim

  2. #2
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    I prefer side-mount pumps. We tend to have some wider streets and less hillier terrain then the 'Burgh, but we still have our hills. The side mount pump provides added maneuverability for us, which is a necessity since we have to manevuer the different aisles of cars at our many shopping centers, and we do still go out to the boonies on automatic aid where space is tight.

    By the way, Pitt8Truck, I tried to send you a PM, but it wouldn't go through...
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  3. #3
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    PITT, down here in San Antonio we run mostly top mount pumpers. We have some narrow streets and very tight subdivisions here as well and a few hilly areas. For the most part the top mounts work great. Yeah the FAO has to know his turning radius well, and the apparattus are a bit tall...but they work for us. Good luck with whatever works for you.

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    Default Me...

    Always liked side mount.

    AND, if you make those hose beds higher, you will hate it down
    the line. Consider the low mounted hose trays.

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    Having been a firefighter up north in side mount world for 23 years and a firefighter down south in top mount world for the last 3, let me throw in my two cents worth.....

    Top Mount Pump
    Pluses ....
    Safer, especially on interstates and high speed roads, as they keep
    the pump operator out of the street. However, I can see the backside of that during the winter if the steps freeze over and the operator has to get up and down multiple times.
    Increased visiability of the fireground.
    Works well if the pump operator has to function as IC .. good visibility of the scene and incoming units.
    Allows pump operator to operate the deck gun if you are shorthanded
    (assuming it is mounted where ours are, just behind the pump control deck).

    Minuses ...
    Does increase the wheelbase by about 18".
    Does not allow the pump operator to make his own connections.
    Does not allow the pump operator to feel the hose for early signs of caviation and pressure loss.
    Makes it tougher if the pump operator has to be part of the firefighting operation, such as outside vent man or assissting in streching hose.
    More valves to lubricate.

    Personnally I still prefer side mounts, as I like to make my own connections and feel my hose (no comments boys ..I get plenty at home .. lol). But it seems like every pump down this way is top mount .. guess it must be a southern thang.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 06-13-2005 at 10:23 PM.

  6. #6
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    We have both...our newer engine is top-mount, all of our other apparatus are side. I love the top-mount. Everything is all nice and laid out right in a row, get a better view of the scene, you are off the street, all of those plusses...

    As far as the negatives, we haven't found any of those that have been mentioned to be a problem. Getting up and down in the winter and the step is slick? Use the handles on the truck to hold onto...that's what they're for. Longer truck, higher hose beds? A little longer, but the turning radius of our truck is awesome...can get it through Short Street just as well as any other apparatus, and they call it "Short Street" for a reason, believe me. It is a little higher than our others and I have heard it did spend its first couple of nights in the parking lot next to the station until it got the equipment and water on it, which took it down enough not to rip the light bar off when pulling in the bay...that's the story...not sure if it's an exaggeration or not.

    As far as our terrain goes, it's your typical West Virginia (The MOUNTAIN State) terrain. Lots of big hills. A small town, with lots of rural area, narrow streets, tight turns, and we do fine and love our top-mount. We have been looking around, getting ready to purchase a new engine, and the plan is to buy another top-mount.
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  7. #7
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    LaFireEducator....it's not a "southern thang"....we prefer side mounts too....I was going to list the reasons why but Pitt8Truck pretty much covered them all.

    In our usual operation, the pump operator makes most of the connections, which means that he'd have to climb up and charge the attack line, climb back down to make the supply connection, climb back up to maybe charge a second line and make pressure adjustments. Then maybe climb back down to turn on the scene lights, then back up again....Much safer and less work for the operator.

    In my work setting, we do have top mounts, but our operation is a little different...the pump operator usually has no other responsibilities, so he can can just stay up there and mind the pump.

    So I do have extensive experience with both top and side mounts, and I prefer the side mounts.....
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  8. #8
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    I have opinions both good and bad about both.

    Our rig that is first due to Interstate and roadway incidents is a top mount getting the pump operator a little protection rather than having his backside out into traffic with a side mount.

    Our rig that is first due to structural incidents is a side mount. Shorter wheel base to get in and out of the dead ends and the ever popular 'cul-de-sac' that every new development seems to have in it.

    Most of the goods and bads have already been addressed by others, but the one thing I didn't see mentioned(and Pitt this should be of interest to you) is the slip and fall potential of climbing up and down to a top mount in the winter months.

    Oh and one more twist... some departments near me are switching out to a rear mount pump.... any thoughts on that configuration? Have no experience with it so I'm fishing with that question.

  9. #9
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    When I was younger I liked the top mount. But now the ol knees arent what they used to be and Ill take a side mount without all the climbing.

    Oh and one more twist... some departments near me are switching out to a rear mount pump.... any thoughts on that configuration? Have no experience with it so I'm fishing with that question.
    I dont like rear mounts. First, it puts the engineer in the worse possible place as far as traffic. Second, the big plus of rear mounts, more compartment space, is an illusion. Several local departments here have rear mounts and NONE of them have more usable compartment space then our side mounts.
    Last edited by Dave1983; 06-14-2005 at 12:15 PM.
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    It would depend on whose rear-mount to pick and how you build it. Of the few I've seen, there are a couple that seem to pick up space if done right. The Pierce rear-mount at Dallas in 2003 had a ton of space because it was built with a 500 gallon tank. You do lose one whole compartment to the pump panel at the reat, but you can make the body a little longer than normal. Usually you end up with 4 compartments per side instead of 3 if you keep the length of the truck the same as a side mount. The pump panel area becomes a compartment, and you keep the rest. ALF's can be rearranged too. Can't find any good pictures right now. I haven't seen too many other people jumping on the rear-mount wagon.

    They do make for a real high supply line hosebed, but if you normally have hydrants nearby and only use a 25' or 50' section, then they can be kept in a compartment so you will rarely have to repack supply line. And if you do, well that's what rookies are for.

  11. #11
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    Originally posted by BC79er
    It would depend on whose rear-mount to pick and how you build it. Of the few I've seen, there are a couple that seem to pick up space if done right. The Pierce rear-mount at Dallas in 2003 had a ton of space because it was built with a 500 gallon tank. You do lose one whole compartment to the pump panel at the reat, but you can make the body a little longer than normal. Usually you end up with 4 compartments per side instead of 3 if you keep the length of the truck the same as a side mount. The pump panel area becomes a compartment, and you keep the rest. ALF's can be rearranged too. Can't find any good pictures right now. I haven't seen too many other people jumping on the rear-mount wagon.

    They do make for a real high supply line hosebed, but if you normally have hydrants nearby and only use a 25' or 50' section, then they can be kept in a compartment so you will rarely have to repack supply line. And if you do, well that's what rookies are for.
    I forgot about the hose bed issue. And sure, you can add compartments but that defeats the whole purpose of the rear mount which is a small, compact rig.

    All the departments around here that have rear mounts use them as ALS engines at about an 80/20 EMS/fire run volume. For this, the compact size of the rear mounts are a big advantage.

    But with the hose bed issue, not only height but limitations on what hose you can carry, I dont see rear mounts as practicle for areas with basic engine companies.
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  12. #12
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    Give me a sidemount with the panel on the "wrong" side and I am a happy camper

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    Thumbs up

    We have a rear mount pump and love it. The rig was designed for our steep narrow driveways where houses should never have been built. The rear mount allows for a much shorter wheelbase allowing for tight turning radius. Also with no hydrants we keep our fold-da-tanks in line with the truck...great for tanker operations. We carry all the hose we could ever need or want. The operator can see around all directions. Our truck is taller but that is because of the 4 x 4 not the pump. The best class A pumper we got.

  14. #14
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    Any pictures of that 4x4 rear mount handy? We've got one on order, and I would like to see how you've got yours set up.

  15. #15
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    Heres my 2 cents:

    I saw a top mount at my FF training and thought it was pretty cool. I pointed it out to a guy going through with me (From PA he's had 30+ years in the dept and needed the NY certificate). He made me realize an important fact: I thought it was cool that the operator could see everything, but he pointed out that you really just want the pump operator to be seeing the panel. Less chances of distraction and hence, problems. Just my 2 cents, again i'm new.

  16. #16
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    dm ....

    Basing my comments on what I see up here in North/Central Louisiana, East Texas and southern Arkansas. Just about every pump I have seen is a topmount, including all of ours, as well as Bossier City and Shreveport.

    I was told when we were specing our new truck that my chief would NEVER allow anything but a topmount pump to be purchased. At that point, the conversation switched topics.

  17. #17
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    LaFireEducator...I feel the opposite...if I have anything to do with it we will never have a top mount. Compartment space is a big selling point to me, as is overall length (due both to turning radius and the limitations of our station). Top mounts lose on both counts, in my opinion.

    Also, as I stated, if all the operator had to do was charge the line and watch the panel, it might be OK...but our operator has to make his supply connections, turn on scene lights, and later in the operation he assists replacing SCBA bottles. It would be too much up-and-down.

    Also, about the rigs we have at work...since someone mentioned rear-mounts, perhaps I should clarify...we have top mount pump panels, but the pump itself is rear mounted (all pump controls are remote-actuated...."fly by wire" technology). It does make for a high hose bed...you actually can barely reach our hosebed from the tailboard. That's assuming you could even stand on the tailboard, which you can't because of the triple 6" intake valves located there. What we had to resort to was a length of webbing strapped to the end of the 6" supply hose and left where we can reach it, so we can yank the supply hose down off the top Not a good design, in my opinion....
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  18. #18
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    here we have 2 top mount pumpers, we like them and I think the pros and cons have been well listed here. We di have side mounted pumps when I forst got on, on some OLD American Lafranceopen cab engines .Also the quit is an older model Sutphen and I think that if engines were as short in heigth (sp) we would probably still use them as on all of the older trucks you could stand on the ground and SEE the person on the other side.
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  19. #19
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    Down here we use rear mounts for most of our pumpers - part tradition (we are based on the British fire services) and part because it enables us to have shorter apparatus that still fit into our older stations. We tend to get much more compartment space with a rear mount because we gain an extra large compartment on each side of the apparatus, and only lose the inner rear one. Our hose lines are stored in the small vertical lockers that are on the rear (each side of the pump panel). Each locker has three removable trays, from top to bottom
    1.5" attack line with nozzle attached
    2.5" attack line with nozzle attached
    2.5" supply line

    I like rear mount pumps - with this hose setup they work well, because the first due pumper pulls just past the job, and then the hose pulls out easily towards the job without having to make 180 degree turns etc, and the pump operator has a good view of the job if he/she stands sideways, without having to turn around or look around the corner of the rig. It would also work great if you run a truck co. because the pumper/engine would be pulled past the job, leaving the front open for the truck, instead of the problem caused by engines stopping in front of the job to deploy their crosslays.

    Now if we could get organised and run truck companies down here life would be good
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  20. #20
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    Talking Yeah, Right!............

    Originally posted by CaptainS
    Give me a sidemount with the panel on the "wrong" side and I am a happy camper

    Anyone want to make the Captain happy? A Pre-1956 American Lafrance should do it.

    On Pumps - All of the debate has already covered everything that I could think of, except one item. My personal likes and dislikes. I don't like Top Mounts. Period. End of Story. AND, while I have the floor, we are discussing Top Mount CONTROLS here, not Top Mount Pumps, the pump is in the same place, the control placement is the difference. Rear and Front Mount Pumps ARE different though, and the Drive Shaft engineering is really neat for those types. SteveDude may be very well versed in Rearmounts, I think they are much more common across the pond.
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  21. #21
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    Cool And..............

    Sudden Thought # 15,867,988.06. For those who like to be protected from Traffic while running the pump: Get an "Old Fashioned Rural Front Mount Pump", they are available up to 1,500 GPM by several builders. With the Front Mount, you are out of traffic while you work, AND with no climbing up and down.
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Yeah, Right!............

    Originally posted by hwoods

    AND, while I have the floor, we are discussing Top Mount CONTROLS here, not Top Mount Pumps, the pump is in the same place, the control placement is the difference.
    Darn Chiefs.... you always have to take things so literally and put technicalities in it don't you!?! You do that again we're deducting 1000 posts from your account!

    The scarey part is I wonder how many people are sitting out there in cyberspace saying "Oh SH*T, I never knew it was only the controls that were different"

  23. #23
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    No, no, they're easy to find. They're still digging through the toolbox for a metric adjustable wrench.

  24. #24
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    Originally posted by BC79er
    No, no, they're easy to find. They're still digging through the toolbox for a metric adjustable wrench.
    And here I thought they were looking for the water hammer!!

  25. #25
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    HWoods ...

    Thanks for bringing up front-mounts. Though you don't see them much anymore, they certainly did have thier place and thier advantages, especailly for a rural department. They were excellent for drafting as they could be driven right down to the water with all the intakes right there, and generally you could draft connecting up just one length of hard suction (even easier if ya had a pre-connected beavertail). They also allowed a rural department to carry a fairly large tank on a shorter wheelbase, and setup right, also allowed them to have a cross-over compartment in the front of the body. They were something of a plumbing nightmere though and required a little bit extra driver training because of the front-side hangover .... but all-in-all they did a mighty fine job.

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