The purchase of new fire apparatus has become a major capital expense for many organizations. Thus, end users must carefully plan the correct specification for the replacement of the next water/foam pumper, water tanker, hydraulic aerial ladder, hydraulic aerial platform, industrial foam truck, aircraft rescue fire fighting vehicle (ARFF), rescue, hazmat, incident command centre truck to ensure that adequate protection is maintained and to avoid the financial impact of replacing a poorly designed unit long before that of a properly engineered unit by qualified engineers.

Because it is a vital element in public fire protection and requires a substantial investment of public funds, a new piece of fire apparatus must be routinely evaluated to ensure that it adequately meets the needs of both the fire department and the community in a cost-effective manner. Bid specifications should be revised to improve the design of future purchases. Fire departments should be innovative in apparatus design, and should avoid the temptation to copy without exception a design proposed by companies on a poorly to non engineered apparatus.

The design of modern fire apparatus is far different from that envisioned by many so-called “manufacturers” in Africa who are merely component importers and assemblers on standard road transport trucks. Thus, end users must include in their specifications and insist that the manufacturer is an ISO 9001-2008 registered company and can submit certification where applicable that they meet and exceed the following Industry Standards: *National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA); *Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) R-29; *Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE); *Underwriters Laboratories (UL & ULC); *Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) AC 150/5220-10 and *International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Modern fire apparatus must be engineered to meet the demands of repeated emergency responses. Furthermore, apparatus bodies, suspension systems, brake systems, chassis frames and electrical systems must be capable of supporting the increased requirements for multifaceted fire service missions. Unlike our competitors, E-ONE has responded to the changing needs of the fire service by introducing a number of innovations over the past 10 years.

Fire Apparatus Design Considerations

Demands placed on fire apparatus differ greatly from those placed on general standard road transport trucks. Fire apparatus are subjected to extreme operating conditions including rapid acceleration and deceleration, and high engine speeds for extended periods of time. In addition, fire apparatus are constantly stressed by dynamic loads in the form of equipment, hose, water, and aerial devices.

Therefore, it is recommended that all components of a fire apparatus be carefully designed to meet the daily demands to which they are exposed (NFPA standards stress the importance of careful planning when designing new fire apparatus).

Despite the need to be innovative, the apparatus design must be practical, not be overly complicated to operate, and equipment must be stored in an appropriate location that will allow safe and easy retrieval by personnel. In addition, the mechanical components must be easily accessible to maintenance personnel so that apparatus downtime will be minimized. By thinking creatively, fire departments can design an innovative fire apparatus that will meet these requirements without a corresponding increase in the overall size of the vehicle.

It is of utmost importance to incorporate safety into the design of fire apparatus as construction deficiencies contribute to failures. It must be noted that although overall fire fighter mortality rates have decreased on the fire ground, approximately 25 percent of all fire fighter deaths still occur while responding to or returning from fire calls.

E-ONE suggests the goal of fire apparatus design should be to “increase safety, durability and functionality”. For more information please visit &

“When Lives Are In The Balance And Seconds Count”