Thread: Top Mount Pumps

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    Question Top Mount Pumps

    Ok seemed like this was a good topic and I don't think it's on here yet.

    Top mount pumps is the subject. Like them, hate them, could care less... want to know your opinions. Looking for a new rescue/pumper trying to decide what we want.

    Our first run engine is a pierce sabre which is a top mount. First, from an operator standpoint, I love the top mount. Visibility and safety I think are the key when talking about the top mounts. Also when first starting to drive at least from what I remember... I thought the top mount was a little less intimidating to use, it kinda lays everything out in front of you. I have no problem with the side mounts, but I think the transition from our old engine to our new one would be smoother if it had the same style pump.

    Ok now from the whacker standpoint LOL! Side mounts look cooler and they allow you more room to place the stuff that you need for rescue opps.


    Is visibility important enough to sacrifice space?

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    We have had top mount, enclosed pump panel trucks for years. In fact, we have the first top mount, enclosed pump truck Darley ever made. Just because we are so close to them and at the time, our Assistant Chief was a salesman for Darley.

    We love them. Greater visability and safety is the main reason. Plus it is a little more simple to run the pump too. Everything on the left side runs the left side of the truck, everything on the right, runs the right side. It also keeps your operator off of the ground and out of traffic. Enclosed cabs are quieter too, less interruptions by people walking up. Enclosed cabs are more expensive, take up more space but then you have a rehab area as well. You don't have to sacrifice storage space for an enclosed cab, but it just makes your truck a bit longer.

    All a matter of personal preference. After using top mounts, I would hate to go back to side mounts.
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    we are actually looking at a darley now. have you seen the new top mount panel for their auto CAFS? It is layed out really nice

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    I have seen it and it looks pretty simple however I'm not a big fan of a total digital/electronic pump panel. If there was a problem with the electrical system, you are screwed. had that happen a couple times before with one of our trucks and it kept on pumping just fine. Could be I'm just too old school but I would prefer to have a manual pump panel as much as possible. Maybe that is going against the trends these days and I just gotta deal with changing times too, who knows.

    When you deal with Darley on the CAFS, ask for Troy. He is the expert on foam and will not pressure you either way like a salesman would. he answer anything you want to know about anything and won't lead you astray.
    Plus I went to high school with him
    Jason Knecht
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    The panel is still all manual! that's what suprised me


    I talked to Troy like 2 days ago!! wierd... met him in pennsylvania at the convention, very helpful to talk to

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    Oh, thought their panel was all electronic. Oopsey!
    The one I'm thinking of must be the deluxe model or something.

    Yeah, Troy knows his stuff. In fact, another truck manufacturer that will remain nameless (east side of WI, another name for puncture...lol) called him about a problem they had with their CAFS at one point.

    Good luck on your purchase. Seems like you are doing it right and researching it alot.
    Jason Knecht
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    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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    I have alway's liked the top mount better than the side, especially for the visibility of being just a little higher off the ground. Also you ain't limited to seeing just one side of the truck, if the scene is happening on the opposite side. I feel it's also a little bit of a safety point, as you are not right next to the couplings if one of them decide to let go, not that you couldn't fall off the step on the top mount. I think the only thing that hurts a top mount is the constant climbing up and down if someone needs something or you are hooking to a hydrant, or drafting.

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    Top mount, side mount, rear mount, front mount...kind of the Chevy, Ford, Chrysler type of discussion. It boils down to personal preference and past experience really.

    Top mounts...

    Pros: Operator out of traffic, controls laid out for ease of ops, visibility of fireground.

    Cons: Climbing up and down (winter and ice), adds about 2 feet to the length of the rig or costs you compartment space, visibility of the fireground.

    Why is visibility a plus and a minus? Because while the pump operator can be an extra set of eyes for fireground safety I feel his job is to watch the pump and gauges not the roof top venting operation or the line going in the front door.

    Mid mounts...

    Pros: All things being equal it makes for a shorter vehicle length. If laid out properly it can be as easy to run as a top mount, pump operator is at the panel watching the panel and not the fire.

    Cons: Loss of visibilty to the fireground (dependent on apparatus placement), operator may be in traffic.


    Like I said it depends alot on what you are used to...buy what the troops want to make them happy.

    FyredUp

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Cons: Climbing up and down (winter and ice), adds about 2 feet to the length of the rig or costs you compartment space, visibility of the fireground. FyredUp
    As mentioned the climbing up and down constantly is an issue but don't forget to factor in manpower during responses. We have both mid-mount and top-mount engines and the top mounts are great if you have enough manpower on scene otherwise you're doing a lot of additional climbing like FyredUp said. With limited initial manpower sometimes our operator is doing a lot of additional duties which makes the mid-mount more user friendly.

    Our top mount is also easier to use with the deck gun since the operator can manage the gun while monitoring the pump.

    I'd have to say I like both about equally. Of course there are times when I'm cussing because I wish I had the top for a particular fire or I wish I had the mid depending on the situation.
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    One of the pumpers at the Massachusetts Fire Academy is a top mount. Students are intimidated by it until you tell them that is is just like a side mounted pump panel... only horizontal instead of vertical.

    I don't have a problem with the "up and down".. as long as there is sufficent room for the MPO/driver/Chauffeur to be able to get up there without having to be a contortionist!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Top mount, side mount, rear mount, front mount...kind of the Chevy, Ford, Chrysler type of discussion. It boils down to personal preference and past experience really.

    Top mounts...

    Pros: Operator out of traffic, controls laid out for ease of ops, visibility of fireground.

    Cons: Climbing up and down (winter and ice), adds about 2 feet to the length of the rig or costs you compartment space, visibility of the fireground.

    Why is visibility a plus and a minus? Because while the pump operator can be an extra set of eyes for fireground safety I feel his job is to watch the pump and gauges not the roof top venting operation or the line going in the front door.

    Mid mounts...

    Pros: All things being equal it makes for a shorter vehicle length. If laid out properly it can be as easy to run as a top mount, pump operator is at the panel watching the panel and not the fire.

    Cons: Loss of visibilty to the fireground (dependent on apparatus placement), operator may be in traffic.


    Like I said it depends alot on what you are used to...buy what the troops want to make them happy.

    FyredUp

    FyredUp
    FyredUp,

    I agree with all of your post, but wanted to emphasize the areas is bold.

    #1. As far as traffic goes, simple training on apparatus positioning can protect the driver on side mount pumps.

    #2. Adding length is correct, but more importantly it adds length to the wheelbase making driving the apparatus more difficult to drive than similarly configured side mount pumps.
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    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    This is a major issue on our next purchase.

    I am a side mount fan. Mainly for this reason, "the first five minutes". Getting the pump in gear, you move to the tank valve, next place the chock, to the rear break the 5", then to the panel b/c the line is likely stretched and ready, check the tray to make sure the hose is played out, then I call the hydrant to be charged (I will then check for kinks by walking around or looking behind me). Then as I have the supply, I check the intake with a little leg pressure and a guage check every so often.

    I am not a fan of top catwalk style pumps b/c I need to be fluid and quick without being up and down for these ops (on the inital ops, then I get planted at the pump and try my best to be the wiz of water)

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    We have 2 top mount units and I too am debating as we are due to replace one with a Rescue Engine. We used to have 2 much shorter ALF open cabs where a side mount pump wasnt a big deal as you could almost see over the truck. I am wondering without making the thing a real "beast" if we can do a top mount rescue engine, or do we go back to side mount ?
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    Default Bingo!

    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    #2. Adding length is correct, but more importantly it adds length to the wheelbase making driving the apparatus more difficult to drive than similarly configured side mount pumps.

    Thats one of two things I dont like about top mounts. The other is when I used to pump, I like to be able to lean against the supply line so I can feel pressure changes. I know, you have gauges for that and its not a very safe practice if a line blows, but Im old school, I like to feel the line.

    I think it boils down to two things. One is wheelbase and how it relates to your area. Second is how often you fight fire? The main advantage I see with a top mount is visibility, so if you fight a lot of fire a top mount is a good thing. If your like us where the runs are about 25% fire and 75% everything else, the shorter wheelbase of a side mount is more important.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weruj1 View Post
    We have 2 top mount units and I too am debating as we are due to replace one with a Rescue Engine. We used to have 2 much shorter ALF open cabs where a side mount pump wasnt a big deal as you could almost see over the truck. I am wondering without making the thing a real "beast" if we can do a top mount rescue engine, or do we go back to side mount ?


    thats exactly where we are in this whole process. I think we are going to end up with a top mount.... it wouldn't hurt my feelings if it wasn't another pierce, (thats for my brother dickey) we are considering darley and thanks to my buddy don(FyredUp) KME as well

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    I am an advocate of old school, especially when old school works.

    At FDIC, the pump ops class I went to set something in my brain that I carry to this day. He said when you show up, the ECC should look and gawg for 2 seconds, then shut up get on the pump and don't be a spectator... pump the rig!

    Plus I use that "feeling" the intake too. If we are all worried about a line bursting on you, then ask "why is the company so close to the one they are carrying in?" Shouldn't they be worried about that? As far as the 5" supply goes, all our stuff has locks on the couplings, I am not too concerned.

    my 2 cents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LtJohns355 View Post
    t... it wouldn't hurt my feelings if it wasn't another pierce, (thats for my brother dickey)
    Thanks pal, was hoping you would catch that!

    Another thing I just thought of is that in top mounts, depending on how it is designed, can be much easier for pump maintenance and access.

    Also, what can be a disadvantage is where your crosslays are going to be. Sometimes they put them directly under the pump panel. This becomes a total bitch to lay your hose back in unless you have a pull out tray or something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LtJohns355 View Post
    thats exactly where we are in this whole process. I think we are going to end up with a top mount.... it wouldn't hurt my feelings if it wasn't another pierce, (thats for my brother dickey) we are considering darley and thanks to my buddy don(FyredUp) KME as well
    Hey LT!

    That's HME Ahrens Fox that I sent you pictures of...

    FyredUp

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    hahahaha I thought that would get your attention Don! lol KME is ok i guess don't really know anyone that has one around here.


    hey, the pics that you sent me.... how do you like the crosslays in the bumper... looks awesome and like they would be really easy to use

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    Quote Originally Posted by LtJohns355 View Post
    hahahaha I thought that would get your attention Don! lol KME is ok i guess don't really know anyone that has one around here.


    hey, the pics that you sent me.... how do you like the crosslays in the bumper... looks awesome and like they would be really easy to use
    It works out very well. They hold 200 feet of 2 inch hose each. Nice and low for ease of deployment and even better fast reloading with out climbing up on top of the rig.

    Don

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    could have used them today... a total of 15 companies just spent 14 hours on the scene of a huge brush fire in our second due. I was there from about 1pm until 3pm when i had to go to work and after my 8 hour shift i had the great idea to call and see how their men were holding up... of course this landed me a spot driving our tanker until 03:07 hrs!

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    One thing that I have noticed over the years is that most people get a preference to one pump style or another by what they started on. When you become familiar with one style or another itís sometimes difficult to change.

    Although I ďgrew upĒ on an old front mount, we now have two enclosed top mounts. The front mount and side mount are similar insomuch that as an operator you can get a much better feel of how the pump is reacting by listening and putting your hand on the hoses. Of course this depends if the intake and discharge hoses are on ďyour sideĒ on a side mount. If not then as an operator I find that Iím running blind. Even with the feel issue with the pump, I certainly donít miss having to dance around the spaghetti. With a top mount Iíve just learned to listen to the pump closer. When it makes certain noises I simply look at the appropriate gauge and make the adjustments as necessary. Even if I find myself climbing up and down much more, I find that the added visibility (50% of the time) is worth it.

    Probably the biggest reason we chose the heated enclosed top mount pump is that it gets BITTERLY COLD here. I sure donít miss freezing my ***** off standing on the ground. Iím not particularly well versed in how cold it gets in eastern Maryland; however I would imagine when it does the humidity cuts right through you.

    There is a little known (at least in the USA), long established fire truck manufacturer in Winnipeg Canada called Fort Garry Fire Trucks (ISO 9001) that builds many styles of apparatus from salt water grade aluminum that may fit your needs. Their fit and finish is excellent and are truly one of the manufacturers that will custom build and not merely add options. As far as cold weather service is concerned, they have built a fleet of trucks for Nunavet in the Arctic. Before you ask, no I do not work for Fort Garry.

    Like someone previously said, itís a Ford, Chevy, Dodge thing. Personally I like the top mount.

    Stay Safe
    Firefighter1962

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    I spent the first 10 years on a side mount, love it, no issues, but our new rig is rear mount, and I mean rear, as in the panel is on the back end of the truck, (see pic) not the side rear, and after some adjustment I don't mind them, as for the top mount, yeah, its a good idea, but we avoid them simply due to length issues, small stations, etc. I am sure they have there place.
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    I am raising this from the dead....


    Does anyone know if is there a significant cost difference between top mount and side mount??
    Jason Knecht
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    Jason if I recall .........there was not that big of difference........that was in 2008 when we spec'ed our 09 KME..........it just added length due to WB .......I am sure someone will come in here and give you some more current data.
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