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  1. #1
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    Default Vehicle Numbering System

    Is there a vehicle numbering system out there that is uniform across the country? Our area is looking at changing the vehicle numbering system and I am looking for some input. It seems that what I have found is there is no uniformity in the way we number our vehicles in the fire service. Thanks


  2. #2
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    Our's are 90x - 906, 908, and 909 are engines, 907 is our truck... I can't say I know if there's any rhyme or reason to it.

  3. #3
    Forum Member RLFD14's Avatar
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    It is admirable to try to develop a uniform system, but choose wisely, as logical schemes almost always have inherited flaws which might cause confusion and require a new system again in the future. No one likes change.

    Here are a couple systems I have been exposed to....

    1. District-Type-Unit Number

    Each district in the area (county, association, etc) is assigned a number. Then each vehicle type is assigned a number, then each vehicle is numbered. For example, Metropolis is district 1, Gotham City is District 2, Sim City is District 3. All Engines are type 1, Ladders type 2, Ambulances type 3, Utilities type 4, Command units type 5.

    Thus "Gotham City Engine 4" becomes "214". "Metroplis Utility 6" becomes "146". "Sim City Ladder 5" becomes "325". This cuts way down on syllables spoken over the air and eases radio traffic, and you can tell everything you would want to know about a unit simply from its number. Sidenote: Where I came from there was of course an "Engine 1" in "District 9", thus the unit number was fittingly "911".

    This system can manage if there are more than 10 districts OR more than 10 of a particular type of unit in a district, but not both. If more than 10 districts, then when you hear a 4-digit unit number you know that both the first numbers refer to the district (District 16 Ambulance 2 would be 1632). If more than 10 like-units in a district, then when you hear a 4-digit unit number you know that both the last numbers refer to the unit number (District 8 Ladder 14 would be 8214). If you have 10+ districts AND 10+ like-units somewhere, you can decode a five digit number but you can't be sure how to break up the four digit unit numbers (is "1312" District 1 Ambulance 12, or is it District 13 Engine 2?)

    2. Station Number-Unit Number

    Each Unit's number is its station number followed by its unit number based on how many of that type of unit is based at that station, but its municipal affiliation is not included in the unit's actual number as in the previous scenario.

    Smallville Station 1 has two engines, a ladder and an ambulance. They are Engine 11, Engine 12, Ladder 11, Ambulance 11.

    Smallville Station 2 has three engines, a ladder, an ambulance, a command unit and a grass rig. They are Engine 21, Engine 22, Engine 23, Ladder 21, Ambulance 21, Command 21 and Grass Rig 21.

    Since this system does not include municipality name, they need to state their name accordingly when on MA, as Smallville Engine 21 could end up on the same scene as Twin Peaks Engine 21 (both rigs being their respective home district's first engine out of their respective Station 2's).

    ------

    Having just banged out this too-long response..... whatever you do, keep it as simple as possible. The idea is to simplify, not complicate. Fix what's broken only if it is really broken, and go no further.
    Last edited by RLFD14; 05-12-2006 at 09:29 AM.
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    We just changed to go with a large % of the area
    Ours is a 3 part system
    1st number is the town 6 Winfield
    2nd number is the station 1
    3rd is the resource 0 MICU, 1 Engine, 7 Ladder

    so 611 is station 1 engine 621 station 2 engine 610 station 1 medic

    I don't like it but it isn't for me to like or dislike it just use it.
    For me I don't like the possible confusion during auto aid calls.

    We could go to Wheaton (our neighbor) and you can hear 411, 611, 211 all on the same scene.

    I'd just as soon hear ENGINE ___ and know I have an engine

  5. #5
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    We have a county wide numbering system. We have 17 departments, and they are numbered from south to north, by station. 1-70.

    So, the first department in south county has stations 1-13. The next 16, the next 17, the next 18 & 19 and so on. There are also extra numbers for new stations (14-15-21-55-59-63-64).

    As for units, they are numbered by station as well. The engine from station 1 is "E1", the truck form station 28 is "T28". All departments have internal numbers for thier units, but only for fleet purposes and are not used in the CAD or for radio traffic.

    Administrative units are numberd by hundreds. 100 is Chief, 200 is Asst Chief, 300 is training, 400 prevention, 500 EMS, 600 operations, 700 supresion, 800 pub ed and 900 maintenance. In adition, they are further designated by department. So city of Clearwater FDs EMS Chief would be CL500, CL for department and 500 for EMS. City of Largos fire marshal would be LA400.
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  6. #6
    Forum Member RLFD14's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave1983
    As for units, they are numbered by station as well. The engine from station 1 is "E1", the truck form station 28 is "T28".
    Dave, how does this system handle more than one truck-type from the same station? IE, Engine 2 is the engine at Station 2, so what do you call the 2nd engine from Station 1?
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    We have a county wide number system, each township or city has there own set of numbers, like one township has 11,12,13, and another would have something like 121, 122,123, which makes it better than all the stations in the county having engine 1, truck 2, rescue 3, or whatever the numbers would be, I guess it kind of makes it nice for us since we are all on a county-wide band, that if you know the number of the truck you know who is out on a call, also instead of hearing engine 1 from several depts, esp. on a mutual aid call.

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    In most of Missouri we use a four digit system. The first two numbers indicate your department, the second is your station number, the forth specifies type of truck.
    2-LADDER
    3- PUMPER/tanker
    4 -RESCUE/PUMPER
    6-HEAVY RESUE
    7-MEDIC
    8-BRUSH TRUCK
    9-SPECIAL UNIT
    It may sound complex but once you get on to it it's not bad. So unit **28 would be a brush truck from station 2.

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    Here in our county we use 3 digits.only problem with that is chief and 2 asst chiefs take 3 of the numbers away so u r only left w/ 6 numbers to work w/
    example 270,271,272 are the chief and asst chiefs so now we can only go to 279. Bigger city in the county has already ran outta numbers and the county had to assign them open numbers they now have 210-219 and 225,226 and 227 kinda makes it confusing if u dont pay attention.
    But there ain't no medals on my chest A*!holes cause im no hero, Im a fireman! (Denis Leary) Tommy Gavin - Rescue Me.

  10. #10
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    In our county we have 7 Volunteer Fire Departments and around two years ago 4 of us joined together to create our own countywide numbering system. I can honestly say that when working with the departments that share a numbering system is very benificial, in more than one way. Our system is basically very simple. In our county we use a three digit numbering system.

    The frist number in the sequence, stands for the department or station. (254, the 2 stands for Station 200 or Shelby Benona Fire Department)

    The second number in the sequence, stands for unit type. (254, the 5 stands for Rescue/Squad)
    4's are Engines
    5's are Rescues/Squads
    6's are Tankers (Tenders)
    7's are Wild Land Units
    8's are Specialty (like Hose Tenders, Ladder Trucks and so on)

    The third number in the sequence, stands for the apparatus number. (254, the 4 is just a number used to represent that unit.

    201-210 are reserved for Officers and 211-239 are reserved for Firefighters

    Granted this might not work for all area but it has helped in our county with knowing what units are responding to us as mutual aid. Now all I can hope is that the other three departments join in on this.
    Last edited by rschultzjr; 05-12-2006 at 09:00 PM.

  11. #11
    Forum Member backsteprescue123's Avatar
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    No particular order here I think:

    790- Rescue/Engine
    791- Aerial
    792- Spec. Ops Truck
    793- Medic Unit
    794- ALS Engine
    795- Safety Officer
    796- Command Vehicle
    798- Medic Unit
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  12. #12
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    Hmm, it seems most of the systems mentioned so far use a numbering system that has different coding assigned to different types of apparatus. Our countywide system differs in that it relies on pretty simple and common terminology.

    There are 26 departments in the county, each numbered 1 thru 26 in mostly alphabetical order (25 and 26 were added after the first 24 were already alphabetized). Thus, the first part of the unit identifier is always the department number, followed by a hyphen.

    The second part of the identifier after the hyphen is a pretty clear description of what exactly the unit is. Officers start at "1" for the Chief and go down as far as necessary for the amount of officers a particular department has. Fire station radio identifiers are "100", "101", etc. as needed. Pumpers are generally designated by their GPM ("1250", "1500", "2000", etc.) with a 1 added for each additional of the same capacity ("1251", "2001", "2002", etc.). In some cases pumpers can be designated "Tanker" if they have tanks over 1000 gallons, or "Quad" if they are a quadruple combination pumper. Aerial ladders by their height (100 footers are "99", "98", etc. because of the station numbering). Aerial platforms are "Tower". Quints can be designated either by the aerial ladder or tower ladder system if preferred, or simply called "Quint". Rescues are "Rescue", "EQ" or "Squad". Special units are given fairly clear designators, such as "Patrol" for a manpower transporter, "MP" for a mini-pumper, "ATV" for a brush truck, "Marine" for a boat, etc.

    Here are some examples for Dept 6:

    Main station: 6-100
    Substation: 6-101
    Substation: 6-102
    Chief of Department: 6-1
    Captain: 6-4
    6th Asst. Engineer: 6-12
    1500 GPM pumper: 6-1500
    A second 1500 GPM pumper: 6-1501
    1750 GPM pumper: 6-1750
    75' aerial ladder: 6-75
    Rescue: 6-Rescue
    95' aerial platform: 6-Tower
    Ford Excursion: 6-Patrol
    Brush truck: 6-ATV

    While the system isn't always perfect, it is very easy to follow and doesn't require much deciphering at all to know what type of unit you're getting, since it uses plain English for the most part.

  13. #13
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RLFD14
    Dave, how does this system handle more than one truck-type from the same station? IE, Engine 2 is the engine at Station 2, so what do you call the 2nd engine from Station 1?
    There is only one of each type of "in-service" apparartus per station, so under normal conditions there would never be a second engine at station #1, at least not staffed and in-service. However, if say a huricane comes our way, a second staffed engine at station #1 would be called "Pumper 1" (P1). If an engine from another county is brought in under the state mutual aid plan, it would be called "Engine 101" (E101). This is all built into the county wide CAD.
    Last edited by Dave1983; 05-13-2006 at 06:26 PM.
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  14. #14
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    we use the 4 digit system similar to the 3 digit systems already listed.

    first 2 are the department ID (10-32)

    3rd number is the station number or officer designation
    station 2 would be XX2X
    station 3 would be XX3X
    officer would be XX0X

    4th digit is the type of unit
    1-2 ambulance
    3-5 engine
    6 specialty unit, usually the rescue
    7 brush/grass unit
    8 tanker
    9 ladder

    if 3rd digit is a 0 then the 4th digit is officer identification. 00 for the Chief and continuing through all departmental officers (up to XX10)

    so..... the department 24 Chief would be 2400, department 24's first engine from station 1 would be 2413, department 20's grass truck would be 2017, department 12's station 1 ambulance 2 would be 1212, department 18's station 2 first engine would be 1823, etc.

    some departments rotate the first unit out for "equal use" or based on type of call, but either way you know what you're getting. we also had to adjust and add some "ghost" stations because of multiple units of the same type. there is one department that had 1 station but had 2 tankers so the trucks were numbered 18 & 28 even though they came from the same station.
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    Sounds like there is not really a standard practise followed by the multiple areas that have responded. Various number codes for type could be different from one area to the other.

    Most departments around here go with the name of the department and type and #. Sometimes it goes to the department number at dispatch, 14 E 1 but mostly it would be (Town Name) Engine (# 1-?).

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    We have a county wide system which gives each district or area a number ... station 21, station 36, station 51 , etc. Then the apparatus is numbered according to type ... Engine 21-1, Engine 21-2, or Ladder 51, Rescue 59, and so on.
    If an area has a Police force and/or volunteer EMS, they have the same station number. Say a 911 call comes in to County dispatch for a structure fire in a certain area, they will dispatch Fire, EMS and PD from that area on their respective radio bands (example: "Station 51 you have a fire at ...," then "Ambulance 51-9 respond to assist 51 fire at ...", then "Area 51 PD assist 51 Fire at ..." )

    Because the volunteer fire service in our state is one of the oldest in the country, most of the companies still retain their old company numbers ... Eage Hose Co. 3, Alert Ladder Co. 4, Columbia Hose Co. 5, etc. They all identify with the modern county wide numbering system, but many of them have kept their old logo and apparatus markings which have been their tradition.

  17. #17
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    The Department I work for is Hamilton County outside Cincinnati. Each Station is assigned a number 1-110. This includes all Cinti and County Stations.

    Kept real simple, a engine is a engine, truck is a truck, quint a quint, medic and so on

    Example: Engine 25, Truck 25, Medic 25 all from Station 25

    If more than one engine / medic / rescue / truck from the same Station it goes this way

    Engine 2-25, Medic 2-25 and so on and so on.

    No codes for a engine, truck or whatever...simple english, no confusing codes!!!

  18. #18
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    The County I live in goes by Department number followed by unit number.

    Engines are 1,2,3 11,12,13 21,22,23 etc

    Mini/Brush/Patrol 4,14,24,34,etc

    Tankers are 5,15,25,35 etc

    Ambos are 6,7 16,17,26,27 etc

    Rescues/Squads are 8,18,28,38,etc

    Aerial Devices are 9,19,29,39,49 etc

    Chiefs are 1, 10,20,30

    The Fire chief would be Chief One if he is from Deaprtment 1
    Chief One Ten would be first assistant
    Chief One Twenty would be second assistant etc

    This gives the ability for 1 department to have up to 30 engines 20 ambulances and 10 of everything else. This could be modified for your makeup if needed

    Example

    Lets Say That Anytown Fire Department is Department number 10 and they have 6 Engines 2 Brush 3 Tankers 3 Ambulances 2 Rescues and 2 Aerial Devices.

    The followwing would be there unit designations

    Engine Ten One (10-1)
    Engine Ten Two(10-2)
    Engine Ten Three (10-3)
    Engine Ten Eleven (10-11)
    Engine Ten Twelve (10-12)
    Engine Ten Thriteen (10-13)
    Brush Ten Four (10-4)
    Mini Ten Fourteen (10-14)
    Tanker/Tender Ten Five (10-5)
    Tanker/Tender Ten Fifteen (10-15)
    Tanker/Tender Ten Twenty Five (10-25)
    Amb Ten Six (10-6)
    Amb Ten Seven (10-7)
    Amb Ten Sixteen (10-16)
    Rescue Ten Eight (10-8)
    Squad Ten Eighteen (10-18)
    Ladder Ten Nine (10-9)
    Tower Ten Nineteen (10-19)

    I like this system because you can eliminate alot unneeded words on the radio.

    Example

    Anytown Engine Ten One is On Location

    Ten One on Location Using this number system you know that Anytown Fire Departments Engine 1 is on Loaction without the extra stuff.

    The only drawback to this system is departments 20,30,40,50,60,70,80and 90

    EX Engine Twenty One Responding (20-1)

    However some departments Combat this by skipping the 1st round of numbering and go to the teens

    Ex Engine Twenty Eleven Responding(20-11) There is no questions who's department and unit it is.

    I feel this system works good for us. This system probably would not work in very large departments because of the limiting factor of 10 on some of the designations, However this could be tailored to your area.

  19. #19
    Forum Member Klink75's Avatar
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    Interesting . . . as you are asking about a vehicle numbering system to identify apparatus types, we are doing away from that practice. We have a County dispatch center, with all departments using the same general designations, (except for one). Each unit would be ID'ed by Station number first, then the designation number. 1, 2, & 3's are Engines, 4's are Ladders, 5 & 6's can be used for a Rescue or a Brush unit, 7 & 8 are BLS ambulances, 9's are Support/Utilities. Officers are numbered by the station number, followed by 0, then the ranking number.

    Station 75 for example:

    751, 752, 753 are Engines
    755 is a Rescue
    757 is an ambulance
    759 is a utility
    7503 is a Line officer

    In the last month, the County has adopted a plain text policy were apparatus prefixes will be used. If a Station has only one of a particular resorce, like one ladder truck, they may utilize the station number only - ex: Ladder 75. If there is more than one, The apparatus will use the prefix, but keep all three numbers, ex: Engine 753. This change was to help all departments with NIMS compliance. This way on radio, an Engine is an Engine, a Ladder is a Ladder, a Quint is a Quint. There is no guessing as to what a unit is. This mainly comes into play when operating outside our county or state.

  20. #20
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    The county I work for changed call signs about 20 yrs ago and it works well for us. We have 17 fire districts, so each station has a certain number/numbers for different ranks and apparatus. Chiefs are 01-03, Capt. are 04-09, Engines are 11-18, Brush trucks and support vehicles are 21-29, LTs are 31-35, Drivers are 36-39, and medical personnel are 40-49. F/F use 61-99 numbers. Tankers, Ladders, Towers, Boats, Squads(heavy rescues) etc just use the sta. number. So sta. 1 Chief would be 101, Engine 112 , Tanker 1, and Ladder 1. Sta. 11 has 1101, Engine 1114, Squad 11, and support vehicle 1129. Staion 8 has 801, Eng 813, brush 823, Squad 8 and waverunner 8. Generally Chiefs of Dept use the 01 call sign, Deputy Chief 02, Asst Chief 03, Brush trucks normally go from 21-25, and all chief vehicles use the 26-28 so that if a F/F has a errand to run in the Chiefs vehicle and responds to a call they have a call sign. Not all members have radios, nor does dispatch generally reconigze the 60-99. We have recently added career F/F to the county and they use the 19 call sign at the end of their truck number(i.e. the career crew at sta 3 use Engine 319) this helps our dispatch keep track of there stats. The third number for an engine is pretty much useless, the engines dont always start at 11 it is up to the indvidual dept to numbers their trucks.

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