Apparatus & Equipment, Engine Company, Firefighting

Changes to NFPA 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus

By William C. Peters

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, has undergone its routine five-year update. Many people in the fire service are under the impression that the manufacturers update the standard. Although they do have their representation, the voting members of the NFPA Apparatus Committee are comprised of 30 members, and the committee chairman is always a member of the fire service. One-third of the members are apparatus users; one-third are manufacturers; and one-third are special experts such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Insurance Services Office (ISO), consultants, and an attorney. This gives a well-rounded voice from the fire service. In addition, anyone can attend the meetings and participate in the discussions, but only the voting members can make decisions on proposals.

In addition, there are subcommittees or task groups that address individual subjects—for example, pump, aerial, electrical, and chassis. The task group is chaired by a voting member of the Apparatus Committee, but the members are all volunteers from throughout industry and the fire service.

Even the decision-making process is well-defined. Every proposal is logged in and addressed. The committee can accept it as presented, accept in principle (the idea is good but may need to be tweaked to make it workable), or reject it. In any case, a written justification is provided for the committee’s actions. At each stage of the process, the public can and should get involved.

The way the standard is updated is pretty extensive, as outlined below.

  1. A call for proposals to amend the current document is issued.
  2. The committee meets to act on the proposals as well as develop its own for items in the standard that need to be adjusted.
  3. The committee votes by letter ballot on all proposals submitted. If the proposal receive a two-thirds vote, it goes forward.
  4. A report on proposals is published for public comment.
  5. The committee meets again to act on comments.
  6. The committee again votes by letter ballot. If two-thirds approve it, the report goes forward. Lacking approval, a supplementary report returns to the committee.
  7. A supplementary report is published for public review.
  8. The NFPA membership meets at the annual or fall meeting and acts on the committee’s report.
  9. The committee votes on any amendments to the report approved at the meeting.
  10. Appeals to the Standards Council on Association action can be filed within 20 days of the meeting.
  11. The Standards Council decides whether to issue the standard or to take other action, including upholding any appeals.

This process takes several years. The Apparatus Committee meets several times, depending on the number of proposals and the amount of committee work necessary to update the standard and present a final draft for approval.

The committee members, alternates, and task group members are not paid a salary or expenses to take part in this process. Some have corporate or organizational sponsorship for expenses, but many pay their own way. For many, it is strictly for the satisfaction of doing what is good and right for the fire service.

I tell everyone, “Don’t sit around complaining. Get involved!” If you have a good idea, or something that needs to be changed, submit a proposal (the form is in the back of every standard). Contact the NFPA for dates and locations and attend committee meetings. Meetings are not held in secret! They are open to the public, and most are in conjunction with various fire service exhibits and shows around the country.

Purchase and use the standard to your fullest advantage when purchasing a fire apparatus. There are mountains of information in the standard and the annexes to help you with your task. Take advantage of it! The new update should be available online by July, with printed versions following shortly thereafter.

As I said in the Foreword, this article is not a formal interpretation issued pursuant to NFPA regulations. Any opinion expressed is my personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the official position of the NFPA or its Technical Committees.

There were many “editorial” and numbering changes in the standard that really did not affect the requirements. I am going to skip over them and concentrate on any adjustments that are actual changes. Please understand that I am pointing out the change and not giving specific language or requirements. If you think the requirement will affect your specifications, you’ll need to research the specific language.

I will proceed by chapter in the new standard.


For the first time, the standard applies not only to fire apparatus but to trailers intended to be towed by fire apparatus under emergency response conditions. A whole new Chapter 26 outlines all requirements for trailers.

The effective date for the revised standard is for apparatus contracted on or after January 1, 2009.


All of the reference publications have been updated to reflect the current documents and editions referenced in the standard.


The following definitions were added, removed, or changed.


Access Ladder
Bulk Air System
Estimated In-Service Weight
Instruction Plate
Neutral Point
Personal Gear
Rear Axle Track Width
Tow Vehicle


Air Truck
Industrial Supply Pump


Air Quality Monitors
Combination Vehicle
Fire Pump
Ground Clearance
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter
Initial Attack Apparatus
Miscellaneous Equipment
Neutral Conductor
Power Equipment Rack
Rated Capacity (Aerial Device)

Most of the changed definitions were changed by a few words to compare with the requirements of the revised standard.


The general requirements outline the chapters of the standard that must be complied with for the various types of apparatus as well as requirements that apply to all. A couple of big changes will affect all apparatus.

Added was that if a tow vehicle is to respond while calling for the right-of-way under emergency conditions, it shall meet all of the requirements of the chapters that all fire apparatus must meet.

Added to the “responsibility of the purchaser” paragraph is if a Type I or II trailer is going to be used for transporting fire rescue response equipment, the purchaser needs to supply the contractor with sufficient information about the configuration of the trailer.

The paragraph that deals with the “Responsibility of Contractor” had a couple of changes. Added was a statement describing that items not fully compliant with the standard must be provided with the apparatus. Later in this chapter under “Statement of Exception” I will further describe new requirements dealing with noncompliance to the standard.

New Product Demonstrations

In the 1999 edition of 1901, the contractor was required to “instruct” the purchaser in the operation, care, and maintenance of the apparatus. In the 2003 edition, it was changed to “demonstrate” the apparatus. In the 2009 edition, the requirement was removed. If you expect demonstrations or instructions, you had better define that in the specifications!

Third-party testing organizations will now have to meet specific guidelines and requirements identified by the International Standards Organization.

The height of gauges or visuals display had been 84 inches, but it was better defined as being measured to the center of the display.

“Black Box” Data Recording

A new section calls for the addition of a vehicle data recorder (VDR). This is going to be the fire service’s version of the “black box” found in aircraft. The conditions that will be recorded once per second and stored on a 48-hour loop are vehicle speed, acceleration, deceleration, engine speed, throttle position, ABS event, seat occupied status, seat belt status, master optical warning device switch position, time, and date. The purchaser must be able to upload the information to a computer. In addition, the memory has to be sufficient to record 100 engine hours worth of minute-by-minute summary data showing the same information. A chief can use this information to monitor how the drivers are operating the vehicle, and it can be invaluable if the vehicle is involved in an accident, providing that it substantiates proper operation (photo 1).

(1) A vehicle data recorder (VDR) will be required to capture critical apparatus information on a second-by-second basis. (Photos by author unless otherwise noted.)
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Vehicle Stability

Since the fire service seems to experience a fair share of rollover accidents, especially involving heavy tankers and aerials with a high center of gravity, several new requirements have been included to deal with the issue.

The new apparatus will either have to be equipped with a stability control system or comply with tilt table testing or center of gravity calculations.

Stability control systems have sensors that determine the steering wheel position, vehicle yaw, and lateral accelerometer and use this information to determine if the apparatus is becoming unstable. The stability control system then operates in conjunction with the ABS to control individual wheel brakes and in some cases reduce allowable acceleration to bring the vehicle back under control.

The second option is for the manufacturer to test the apparatus on a tilt table or do a calculated measure of center of gravity (CG). The apparatus must be loaded with fuel, water, and weights where they would be normally located—such as in the seats, hosebed, and compartments. It is then placed on a table and tilted to 26.5 degrees in both directions to determine instability.

The calculated CG cannot be higher than 80 percent of the rear axle track width.

Another factor in many accidents is low tire pressure. Properly inflated tires improve handling and minimize rollover potential. The new standard will require that each tire be equipped with a visual indicator or pressure monitoring system. The point of this requirement is to eliminate the need to have a firefighter manually check each tire with an air gauge. Automatic systems are available that will indicate low tire pressure on a display in the cab, and individual units attach to the tire valves. In any case, keeping the tires inflated to the proper pressure will be an added safety feature.

Maximum Apparatus Speed

We are all familiar with the saying “Speed kills,” and it has never been so true as with a heavy fire apparatus, especially the tankers/tenders with a water load. In most cases, speed, coupled with an inexperienced driver, equals disaster. This next requirement may not be too popular with some firefighters, but the committee felt it was necessary.

  • The maximum top speed of fire apparatus with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds shall not exceed 68 mph or the manufacturer’s fire service speed rating for the tires, whichever is lower.
  • If the combined water/foam tank capacity exceeds 1,250 gallons or the GVWR of the vehicle is more than 50,000 pounds, the maximum top speed shall not exceed 60 mph or the fire service speed rating for the tires, whichever is lower.

A few things were added to the manufacturer’s record of apparatus construction, including ratio of driving axles, maximum road speed, and certified weight documents.

Statement of Exceptions

At times, some purchasers want to waive certain requirements of the standard and wish to complete the apparatus at home. A good example of this is the required reflective striping. Some fire departments have local artists available who do lettering, striping, and even murals so they don’t want their “canvas” touched until they lay it all out. The problem is that no one ever knows if the final product is compliant (photo 2).

(2) If an apparatus is being delivered without meeting all aspects of the standard, such as with a lack of reflective striping, a statement of exceptions must be signed. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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A statement must be delivered with the apparatus indicating that it fully complies with all requirements of the standard or a “Statement of Exceptions” must be provided.

The following information must be provided on the Statement of Exceptions for each noncompliant aspect of the apparatus or missing required item:

  • The specific section of the standard for which compliance is lacking.
  • A description of the aspect of the apparatus that is not in compliance or the required equipment that is missing.
  • A description of the further changes or modifications that must be completed to make it compliant.
  • The entity who will be making the necessary changes or supplying the missing required equipment to make the apparatus compliant with the standard.

Prior to or at the delivery, the Statement of Exception is to be signed by the seller and the purchaser, indicating a mutual understanding and agreement. It goes on to say that the apparatus shall not be placed in emergency service until it has been modified as necessary to accomplish full compliance.

This Statement of Exception places the responsibility directly on the purchaser for any noncompliance issues that the fire department choses to waive.


Not too much changed in this chapter except some items of equipment. Most of them are the same for all apparatus.

The terminology “attic ladder” was changed to “folding ladder.” The standard further goes on to allow a step ladder or multipurpose ladder meeting American National Standards Institute (ANSI) safety standards to be substituted for a folding ladder or carried in addition to minimum fire department ladders (photo 3).

(3) A step or multipurpose ladder like this “Little Giant” can substitute for a folding (attic) ladder. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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A wording change from “hard suction hose” and “soft suction hose” was made to 20 feet of suction hose or 15 feet of supply hose. This was done to account for flexible lightweight suction hose and the use of large-diameter supply hose for hydrant connections (photo 4).

(4) Terminology for hard and soft suction hose was changed to suction hose and supply hose. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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Another wording change was in the minor equipment category. Previously required “spray nozzles” were changed to “handline nozzles” to account for the many fire departments who use variations including smooth bore nozzles.

The requirement is now for the wheel chocks to hold apparatus on 20 percent grade in place of the 10 percent previously stated.

Since many firefighters are injured and killed on our highways each year, some new items of equipment are now required (photo 5).

(5) Traffic safety vests will be required for each seating position.
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  • One traffic vest meeting ANSI standards for each seating position to be provided on the apparatus.
  • Five 28-inch fluorescent orange traffic cones with reflective stripes (photo 6).

(6) Five traffic cones with reflective stripes will be required. These cones collapse into a nice small package for storage.
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  • Five illumination warning devices such as highway flares (unless the traffic cones have illumination capabilities).

Another important piece of equipment required is an automatic external defibrillator (AED). Since approximately 50 percent of the firefighter on-duty deaths are attributed to heart attacks, the committee felt that this was a necessary piece of equipment.

I had a question in my FDIC 2008 workshop about paramedic engines that carry other more sophisticated defibrillators that are not necessarily “automatic.” Chapter 1.5 Equivalency states: “Nothing in this standard is intended to prevent the use of systems, methods, or devices of equivalent or superior quality, strength, effectiveness, durability and safety over those prescribed by this standard.” Paramedic units with other types of defibrillators most likely exceed the AED and would be a suitable substitution.

A couple of hose adapter changes were made. If the apparatus does not have 21⁄2-inch NH intake, an adapter from a 21⁄2-inch NH female to pump intake shall be carried or mounted directly to the intake. Also added, if the supply hose carried has other than 21⁄2-inch NH threads, adapters shall be carried to allow feeding the supply hose from a 21⁄2-inch NH thread male discharge and to connect to a 21⁄2-inch NH female intake. An example would be that an engine with four-inch supply hose responding on a mutual-aid call would be able to adapt to 21⁄2-inch NH thread on the neighboring department.


All of the above changes apply, except the update says that a step ladder or multipurpose ladder is permitted to be carried in addition to the fire department ground ladder required (12 feet or longer combination or extension ladder).


All changes listed for the pumper, except the ladders, are repeated. Mobile water supply apparatus are not required to carry ladders.


The folding ladder changes, wheel chocks, traffic safety equipment, and AED are all the same as for the pumper. The hose adapters described are required if the aerial apparatus is equipped with a fire pump.

A change in location and minor wording of the ladder pipe requirements were made. The ladder pipe used to be in the aerial ladder section. Now it is moved to Chapter 8, as it is a piece of equipment. Added to the description of a ladder pipe is a manual “or electric” ladder pipe to be provided if a waterway is not supplied (photo 7).

(7) Portable ladder pipes are now defined in the equipment rather than the aerial section. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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All changes are the same as for a pumper fire apparatus.


It was added was that a step ladder or multipurpose ladder is permitted. If the apparatus is equipped with pump suction hose, changes previously described apply. Wheel chocks, traffic safety equipment, and AED are all included.


The previous edition of 1901 required a mobile foam fire apparatus to have a fire pump rated at 750 gpm or up or an industrial supply pump. The industrial supply pump was removed from the standard.

All suction hose requirements are the same as for the pumper. Nozzles were changed from “foam or spray nozzles” to “foam or water handline nozzles.” Wheel chocks, traffic safety equipment, and AED are all included as well as supply hose adapters.



Carrying Capacity

There are a few changes in the wording of this chapter that have to do with the apparatus carrying capacity. Most were in the previous edition but are better defined here. Some requirements are new.

Previously, the standard said that the chassis shall be adequate to carry the weight. Now it says the manufacturer must establish the “estimated in-service weight” during the design of the apparatus, including the following:

  • Chassis, body, and tanks.
  • Full fuel, lubricant, and other chassis or component fluid tanks or reservoirs.
  • Full water and agent tanks.
  • 250 pounds in each seating position.
  • All fixed equipment installed such as pump, aerial device, generator, reels, and air systems.
  • Ground ladders, suction hose, designated hose in hosebeds or reels.
  • A miscellaneous equipment allowance that is the greatest value of the equipment allowance listed in the table in the standard, a purchaser-provided list of equipment, or a purchaser-specified miscellaneous equipment allowance.

Previously the standard just made the statement “water tank and other tanks full.” This edition goes a little further to include component fluid tanks such as a hydraulic generator or hydraulic winch. It also requires that all fixed components be included, such as reels.

A change has been made in the personnel weight of each seating position, which has increased from 200 to 250 pounds. This is more in keeping with the normal weight of a firefighter in turnout gear. The personnel weight does not account for SCBA or tools that each individual might carry. While this doesn’t seem like a big issue, you are likely to find that it could have an effect on a heavy apparatus such as a platform. In a 10-person cab, you are adding an allowance of an additional 500 pounds to the front axle. This could exceed the axle capacity on some apparatus and cause you to go with fewer seats.

As for the miscellaneous equipment allowance, this does not include hose, suction hose, or ground ladders carried but does include everything else such as SCBA, forcible entry tools, extinguishers, rescue tools, and so on. There is a chart according to apparatus type that gives an allowance. You as the customer are permitted to exceed this allowance, but it must be specified either with a list of equipment that you intend to carry or by giving a larger weight than the equipment allowance in the chart. As a word of advice, if you plan on specifying a number that exceeds the chart, make your intentions clear in the specifications so that all bidders understand what you want.

A new requirement that makes a lot of sense is that the manufacturer shall design the apparatus with the movable weights distributed as close as practical to their intended in-service configuration without exceeding the GVWR. The important thing here is the anticipated location of the movable weight such as having most equipment located directly over the rear axle or the personnel weight in a custom apparatus directly over the front axle.

Another practical change is in the high visibility plate required in the cab showing the height, length, and GVWR of the apparatus. Now the weight will be shown in tons rather than pounds. Typically this is how most road signs indicate bridge weight capacity warnings.

Engine Regulation

In previous versions of the standard, an automatic engine shutdown was not permitted (for conditions like overheating). Now an engine derate programming is permitted to protect the engine.

Another change had to do with the throttle advance interlock system. The interlock that prevents any auxiliary engine speed control device from operating, such as a hi-idle switch or pump panel throttle, previously required the parking brake to be engaged and the transmission to be in the neutral or park position. This did not take into account units that are required to have the transmission in a drive gear for pump operations. It has now been changed to require the parking brake to be applied and the engine “disengaged from drive wheels.” This could mean that either the transmission is in neutral or a split shaft transmission has disconnected the engine from the driveline, such as when the apparatus is shifted into pumping mode.

Another addition is that the engine is prevented from regulating its own engine speed during times when rpm control is critical for constant functions such a generator, pump, or aerial operations.

Added to the fluid and vehicle tire label in the cab are the “maximum tire speed ratings.” This information is essential when replacing tires on the apparatus.

A slight change was made in the ember separator requirements for the engine air intake. It now states either a device to prevent .039-diameter particles from reaching the air filter or a multiscreen ember separator meeting a specific ember separation test procedure is required.

Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)

A new section dealing with diesel particulate filters required on most engines to comply with the 2007 emission standards was introduced in this edition. Diesel particulate filters trap carbon particles from the exhaust and must be cleaned periodically by burning the particles at a very high heat (photo 8). An overview of the diesel particulate filter requirements follows.

(8) A new section dealing with diesel exhaust particulate filters is included. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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  • The regeneration process is to be activated either automatically when the apparatus is in motion or in stationary pump mode or manually initiated by a switch in the cab.
  • Instructions on manual regeneration are to be explained in the operator’s manual.
  • A switch is to be provided to inhibit regeneration until reset or the engine is shut down. (This might be used in areas when the apparatus is operating in an environment where extremely hot exhaust gas would be a hazard, such as in a forest.)
  • A DPF regeneration light shall indicate that the system requires regeneration.
  • A high exhaust temperature light will indicate that the regeneration process has been initiated.
  • The exhaust temperature shall not exceed 851ºF measured at the exhaust pipe when the unit is in regeneration. This will require some special measures such as vents to entrain air in the exhaust to help cool it.


The previous standard required that the parking brakes of an apparatus loaded to its maximum in-service weight hold the apparatus on a 20-percent grade. This was changed to the parking brakes shall control the rear wheels or all wheels and shall be of the positive, mechanically actuated type.

If your area of operations typically include steep inclines, I recommend that you specify a front axle brake lock. It should be interlocked so it cannot be applied unless the parking brake is activated first and should have a red indicator light. The typical parking brakes on the rear axle might not have the ability to hold a heavy apparatus alone, especially if they are slightly out of adjustment.

Added was that any time a secondary braking device, such as a transmission retarder, is provided, a switch is required to turn it off during adverse road conditions.

Towing Capability

Since trailers have been introduced in the standard, requirements in the chassis chapter for the towing capability were included. Briefly, they were as follows:

  • If towing a trailer with brakes, an electrical receptacle is to be provided near the hitch point that matches the trailer cord.
  • If the trailer has air brakes, air attachment glad-hands are to be provided in addition to the electrical receptacle.
  • A label is to be provided in the area of the trailer connection stating the maximum GVWR and tongue weight of the trailer that can be safely towed.
  • Two safety chain attachment points for trailers that are designed with safety chains (photo 9).

    (9) Requirements for towing trailers have been introduced. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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    There were a few changes to better define and tune up this chapter. The previous standard called for all terminal strips to have protective covers. This edition elevates that requirement and requires all ungrounded electrical terminals to have protective covers or be in enclosures.

    In the description of the minimum continuous electrical load, a requirement was added that if the apparatus is equipped to tow a trailer, an additional 45 amps needs to be added to allow for the trailer.

    Added in the description of the required optical warning devices was that the use of some or all of the same warning lights shall be permitted for both the responding and the blocking right-of-way modes provided all other requirements are met.

    In the previous edition, the lower side warning lights were required to be mounted forward of the centerline of the front axle and behind the centerline of the rear axle. The standard now says on or forward of the axles. In many cases, especially at the rear, this is the only aesthetically pleasing location for the light in the wheel well (photo 10).

    (10) The warning lights required on the lower sides of the apparatus can now be on or behind the center line of the axle. Quite often the area behind the axle is congested with other equipment. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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    Work lighting levels are to be measured with a light meter sensor held against the surface and face perpendicular to the surface, not deliberately pointed toward the light source. This just gives guidance as to how the compliant level of lighting is to be measured by the manufacturer.

    Lighting for the ground area where personnel step onto and off of the apparatus as well as steps, walkways, and work surfaces was increased from 1 foot candle (fc) to 2 fc.

    A few changes having to do with compartments. First, compartment lighting is increased from 1 fc to 2 fc on the floor without shelves, dividers, or equipment installed. If you are specifying an apparatus, consider strip lighting that will give you sufficient coverage regardless of shelf location (photo 11).

    (11) Compartment lighting levels have been increased. The use of LED strip lighting has increased illumination considerably. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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    A second change was that compartments having a volume less than or equal to 4 cu. ft, an opening less than 144 sq. in., a door that does not extend sideways beyond the mirrors or above the top of the truck, and all equipment restrained do not have to be connected to the hazard light in the cab. This requirement is for small compartments such as the SCBA tubes that are typically installed in the fender wells or microphone compartments at the pump panel (photo 12).

    (12) Small compartment doors like this control panel door do not have to be wired to the hazard light in the cab. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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    Seat Belts

    The lack of seat belt use is one of the major causes of firefighter fatalities in apparatus accidents, especially rollover events. The committee has taken some bold moves to encourage seat belt use by all occupants.

    A survey of 300 firefighters wearing bunker gear found that some seat belts lacked sufficient length to be comfortably worn. The new standard now requires type I pelvic (lap) belts to be a minimum of 60 inches and type II pelvic and upper torso (three-point) belts to be a minimum of 110 inches. A procedure for measuring the seat belt length is also included (photo 13).

    (13) Longer seat belts are now required in the cab.
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    Seat belt webbing must be bright red or bright orange. In the previous edition, it said bright red if available from the chassis manufacturer.

    A seat belt warning system consisting of an audible warning device that can be heard at all seating positions and a visual display to the driver or officer showing the condition of each seating position is to be provided in the cab. The unit shall be activated when the park brake is released.

    The seat position display is to show the following for each seat:

    • Affirmative—the seat belt is buckled and the seat is occupied.
    • Negative—the seat belt is buckled and the seat is not occupied.
    • Negative—the seat belt is unbuckled and the seat is occupied.
    • Dark—the seat belt is unbuckled and there is no occupant.

    The seat belt warning can consist of lights, text, graphical indicators, digital display, or other methods that meet the above performance requirements.

    The warning device shall also determine that the seat is occupied before the belt is buckled before showing affirmative indication. In other words, the correct sequence of sitting and buckling up must be followed before a positive indication is made.

    Also remember that seat belt information is required to be stored in the apparatus “black box” data recorder.

    Interior Door Reflective Material

    In the previous standard, driving and crew compartment doors were required to have 96 sq. in. of reflective material on the inside. This had been expanded to include any door designed to allow persons to enter or exit the apparatus, including such doors as entrances to a rescue body or command center area.

    Helmets in the Cab

    In the last standard, a great deal of work went into providing enough head room in the cab above the seats to prevent neck injuries from hitting the ceiling. Now the committee has addressed fire helmets in the cab.

    A statement is required to be included in the operator’s manual saying, “Fire helmets shall not be worn by persons riding in driving and crew areas. Fire helmets are not designed for crash protection and will interfere with the protection provided by the head rests. The use of seat belts is essential to protecting fire fighters during driving.” In addition, a label stating “DO NOT WEAR HELMET WHILE SEATED” must be visible from each seating location.

    Now the question is, What do you do with your fire helmet during the response? The standard indicates that a location for helmet storage shall be provided, and if helmets are to be stored in the driving or crew cab, they have to be secured in compliance with the equipment storage paragraph. Either a fully enclosed and latched compartment or a mounting bracket that can contain the helmet must be supplied (photo 14). Obviously, the other option is to place the helmets in a body compartment and retrieve them before going to work.

    (14) A secure place to store fire helmets while responding will need to be a consideration.
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    Means of Escape

    The previously required two means of escape from any occupied area has now been further defined to say that the opening must be a minimum of 24 × 24 inches.

    Cab Integrity

    Cabs on apparatus with 26,000 GVWR and more are required to meet Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) cab strength requirements or Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) Regulation #29, Protection of Occupants in Cab of Commercial Vehicles. The SAE standard is a U.S. standard, and the ECE is a United Nations regulation. Both provide minimum measures of cab integrity (photo 15).

    (15) Cab strength requirements are now in the standard. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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    All primary rearview mirrors used by the driver must be adjustable from the driver’s position. Since using rearview mirrors is essential for the safe operation of the apparatus and it is a two-person operation to adjust the right-side mirror, power mirrors are now required. In climates where cold weather is a factor, heated mirrors might also be a good option for you to consider (photo 16).

    (16) All rearview mirrors must be adjustable from the driver’s position. A motorized mirror will be needed at least on the right side. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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    Steps and Handrails

    There were a few adjustments here. Access ladders are to have eight inches of clearance between the leading edge of the rung and the body of the apparatus or any obstruction. This is up from seven inches in the previous edition. The ladder rungs are to have a skid-resistant surface or covering but don’t have to meet the slip-resistance performance requirements for steps and walking surfaces.

    Exterior handrails need to be constructed of or covered with slip-resistant material, and the dimensions and hand clearance measurements are provided. Previously, they were described only as access hand rails without defining interior or exterior.

    Added to increase safety is that handrails and hand holds need to be constructed so three points of contact (two hands and one foot, or one hand and two feet) can be maintained at all times. I always tell firefighters at factory inspections to try to climb up on the apparatus steps. If you are grasping at thin air or have the palm of your hand on a flat surface, a hand rail needs to be installed in that location (photo 17)!

    (17) Handrails need to be provided so that three points of contact are maintained when climbing. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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    Access handrails supplied by chassis manufacturer on a commercial chassis are permitted to be used. The final apparatus manufacturer does not need to remove and replace them.

    Reflective Striping

    Throughout the standard, reflective striping was changed to retroreflective striping. I’m not sure of the difference, but I’ll go with it! A change in the amount of retroreflective striping on the side of the cab and body was made. It now says 50 percent of the cab and body length on each side, excluding the pump panel. In most cases, placing reflective striping on the pump panel is impossible or impractical. So the measurement now is 50 percent of the remaining length of the side rather than the overall length of the apparatus. Twenty-five percent of the front remained the same (photo 18).

    (18) The requirements for side reflective striping have been adjusted to include 50 percent of the cab and body, excluding the pump panel. In some instances, like this example, there is not much room to provide 50 percent coverage of the overall length as previously required. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
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    Another small change is that the stripe is permitted to be interrupted by objects, such as receptacles or slats in compartment doors, provided the full stripe is seen as conspicuous when approaching the apparatus.

    A rather controversial change in the rear retroreflective striping was included in the new standard. Fifty percent of the rear-facing vertical surface, visible from the rear of the apparatus and excluding any pump panel areas not covered by a door, shall be equipped with retroreflective striping in a chevron pattern sloping downward and away from the centerline of the vehicle at an angle of 45 degrees. The colors shall be alternating, six-inch-wide stripes of red and either yellow, fluorescent yellow, or florescent yellow-green. The thought on this requirement was to provide higher visibility to traffic approaching from the rear of the apparatus (photo 19).

    (19) Fifty percent of the rear-facing vertical surface must now have red/yellow alternating strips in a chevron pattern.
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    To clear up any misconceptions, the interior of the hose storage area is not required to meet the slip-resistance performance criteria for other walking surfaces on the apparatus. The floor of a hosebed is for the hose to ride on, not for a firefighter to walk on.

    The previous Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) requiring hose storage areas to be equipped with a positive means to prevent unintentional deployment from the top, sides, front, and rear of the hose storage area is now included in the body of the standard.

    Deleted was the requirement for any hose storage area for 21⁄2-inch or larger hose to be a minimum of five feet in length. This was removed to account for small hose storage areas such as running board hose trays or bumper trays. But if you are specifying a piece of apparatus where you intend to deploy hose from a hosebed, I advise you to specify a minimum length for the hose storage area. If not, there is nothing to prevent a bidder from providing a hose storage area that might only be three feet long, jammed between a turntable and water tank, which you will find generally unusable.

    Ladder Storage Areas

    A section on the mounting of ground ladders was added. The requirements are as follows:

    • Ground ladders are to be mounted and protected to prevent movement, abrasion, or other damage to the ladders.
    • When mounted on the apparatus, ground ladders are not to be exposed to a heat source of 212ºF or greater. This might include heat from the engine or exhaust.
    • Ladders are to be supported to prevent sagging or distortion.
    • Rollers and other moving parts of the ladder rack are to be readily accessible to permit lubrication.

    Receivers and Anchors for Rope and Removable Winches

    A couple of changes were made to capacity. Receivers need to be designed and installed to provide a 2-to-1 straight line pull over load rating of removable winch. Previously it was 1.5-to-1 (photo 20).

    (20) The capacity of receivers for removable winches and rope anchors has been adjusted.
    Click here to enlarge image

    Receivers or anchors installed for use with rope shall supply at least 9,000 pounds no-yield condition with straight line pull. Previously it was a 5-to-1 safety factor over the breaking strength of the rope. The new measurement is much more practical.



    Fire Pump Ratings

    In the past, fire pumps were required to have a minimum rated capacity of 250 gpm @ 150 psi. The set of ratings that a fire pump had to meet, regardless of rated capacity, were:

    • 100% @ 150 psi.
    • 70% @ 200 psi.
    • 50% @ 250 psi.

    In the 2003 edition, there was a separate chapter (18) for industrial supply pumps that had a minimum rated capacity of 3,000 gpm @ 100 psi. The ratings for industrial supply pumps of any size were as follows:

    • 100% @ 100 psi.
    • 70% @ 150 psi.
    • 50% at 200 psi.

    In the current standard, the Industrial Supply Pump chapter has been eliminated and a dual rating system for fire pumps has been instituted. A pump rated at 3,000 gpm or less is rated at the previous fire pump rating schedule. Fire pumps that have a rated capacity of more than 3,000 gpm use the rating system as shown above for the industrial supply pump.

    Pump Controls

    An important safety feature was added, stating that where the pump is driven by the chassis engine and an automatic transmission through a split-shaft power take-off (PTO), the chassis transmission shall shift to neutral on engagement of the park brake. This is an important feature to help prevent a “runaway” situation where the driver inadvertently leaves the truck in drive and applies the parking brake.

    Another change is that the “Throttle Ready” indicator on the pump panel is permitted to light when the transmission is in neutral and the parking brake is engaged. This is followed by the description of an interlock to prevent advancement of the engine speed unless the Throttle Ready light is on. This change would allow the operator to throttle up without having the pump engaged for generator operation or just to keep the alternator charging the batteries.

    Another safety requirement in the same area is that a loss of power to the interlock system will return the engine to idle and prevent the advancement of the throttle from the pump operator’s position.

    On apparatus with a manual pump shift override, the “Pump Engaged,” “OK to Pump,” and “Throttle Ready” indicators and the pump operator’s panel engine speed advancement interlock system shall be operationally functional when the manual override device is used to shift into pump.


    A new requirement for analog gauges displaying the vacuum portion in greater than 120 degrees of arc shall have graduation lines on the vacuum side every 1 Hg with major and intermediate graduation lines emphasized and figures every 10 Hg. Rather than having a little half-inch section at the bottom that shows “0” and “30,” the vacuum side of the master intake gauge will have the full range of vacuum displayed. This could be helpful during drafting operations (photo 21).

    (21) Some vacuum gauges will be required to have graduation lines for every 1 Hg. This will be helpful for departments that routinely draft.
    Click here to enlarge image

    Another change is that a pressure gauge is required on each discharge outlet 1½ inches or larger. If an outlet is equipped with a flowmeter, a pressure gauge must also be provided. Previously, a flowmeter or pressure gauge could be supplied on any discharge. An exception was discharges 31⁄2 inches or larger with a flowmeter needed a pressure gauge as well.

    Pump Testing

    Several changes and adjustments were made to the various pump-testing requirements (photo 22).

    (22) Several changes to the pump test were added.
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    Added to the pump certification test is the engine speed advancement interlock test if the pump is driven by the chassis engine.

    Added to the conditions for pump test was that the minimum lift for the test is three feet from the center of the pump intake to water surface.

    The conditions for the pump test specify a maximum and minimum air and water temperature range. The standard now states that if it is necessary to perform the pump test outside the air or water temperature ranges, and the pump passes all tests, the results are acceptable.

    As part of the pump test, a check of the no-load governed speed of the engine shall be made and recorded. If not within two percent, it shall be adjusted within limits. This is to ensure that the maximum engine rpm are available.

    The pumping engine overload test (pumping rated capacity @ 165 psi for 10 minutes) is only required on pumps from 750 gpm to 3,000 gpm.

    The standard allowed an additional 15 seconds when testing the pump primer when the pump system includes an auxiliary four-inch or larger intake pipe. A change that has been made states that the 15 seconds shall not apply to valved intake pipes where the valve is closed and the pipe volume between the pump and valve is reduced to less than 1 cu ft.

    The vacuum test is required to be done with all intake valves open, all intakes capped or plugged, and all discharge caps removed. A new requirement calls for the test to be repeated with all intake valves closed and the caps or plugs removed.


    Not too much changed here. Added was that discharge outlet pressure gauges and flowmeters are to be checked for accuracy while pumping at rated capacity. If off more than 10 percent, they shall be recalibrated, repaired, or replaced.


    This was another chapter with just a few changes. Water tanks are to have a means to permit flushing of the tank. Previously, the standard used the terminology “cleaning” the tank.

    The wording in the tank construction section previously said a minimum of two transverse or longitudinal vertical baffles were required. It was restated as at least one baffle running longitudinal to the axis of the apparatus on all water tanks and at least one transverse baffle in tanks of 100 gallons or more.

    A minor wording change was made in the fill opening. Previously, the standard said “designed to allow the insertion of a 21⁄2-inch hose with coupling.” This has been changed to a fill opening with a minimum inside diameter of 31⁄4 inches.

    The tank vent/overflow is still required to direct the water behind the rear axle, but added to the Annex material was that the purchaser may wish to specify a sealed water tank to eliminate spill while the vehicle is in motion. In freezing areas of the country, water spill on the roadway could instantly freeze and create a traffic hazard.



    Aerial “Envelope Controls”

    A rather significant change in the aerial chapter came in recognizing the European design of aerial device that incorporates “envelope controls.” This system allows the apparatus to be set up with less than full stabilizer spread but prevents the aerial from moving into a position that would cause the truck to become unstable. This required several wording changes throughout the chapter (photo 23).

    (23) “Envelope controls” that allow an aerial to be used on the short-jacked side of the truck have been included.
    Click here to enlarge image

    The minimum aerial ladder rated capacity remained 250 pounds at the outermost rung with aerial placed in the horizontal position, at maximum horizontal extension. Added was the wording with the stabilizers fully deployed. Also added was that the minimum rated capacity shall remain constant throughout the entire operating envelope of the aerial ladder. What this means is the weight-carrying capacity of the aerial remains constant but the reach and angle of operation may be limited automatically if the stabilizers are not fully deployed.

    Similar wording was added to the rated capacity of elevating platforms. It remained at 750 pounds minimum with the water delivery system dry and 500 pounds with the system full and the stabilizers fully deployed. The platform has to be capable of operating in any position while carrying its rated capacity. Once again, if the stabilizers are not fully deployed, the platform must be automatically limited as to the position that it can be put in.

    An interlock is a device or arrangement by means of which the functioning of one part is controlled by the functioning of another. An interlock to prevent the rotation of the aerial until the vehicle is stabilized has been and is required. Added to the interlock section is the requirement to prevent the operation of the aerial device into an unstable position when the aerial device can be operated with the stabilizers not fully deployed on at least one side of the vehicle. Once again, this defines the requirements of envelope controls.

    Since the operator will need to know what his capabilities are on the “short-jacked” side, an indicator will be required. On an aerial device that can be operated over the side with the stabilizers not fully deployed, the standard calls for an indicator, located at the operator’s position, that allows the operator to determine the maximum extension in relation to the angle of elevation and the extended length of the stabilizers.

    Finally, the aerial stability tests have an additional requirement. Systems that allow the aerial device to be operated over the side with the stabilizers not fully deployed shall be tested in three positions as follows:

    1. Stabilizers at minimum extension as defined by the manufacturer.
    2. Stabilizers extended to midpoint of minimum extension and full extension.
    3. Stabilizers fully deployed.

    Aerial Water Delivery Systems

    There are a couple of minor changes here. The requirements describing a portable ladder pipe that was required if an aerial ladder did not have a prepiped waterway moved from the aerial ladder water delivery system paragraph to the equipment section in Chapter 8.

    The requirement for a water tower’s monitor nozzle flow rate of a range of 300 to 1,000 gpm was changed to 1,000 gpm.

    Testing Qualifications

    The qualifications for personnel who are performing nondestructive testing on aerials have been more clearly defined. A table including required training hours and required experience with the minimum number of hours in each method of testing is provided to help ensure that these important tests are performed by fully qualified personnel.


    There were a few changes here. The application of this chapter is for proportioning systems for foam “or other water additives.” This would include fire retardant gels and other products available that mix with water.

    Foam System Instruction Label

    Some changes to the label at the operator’s position were included.

    • “Only use concentrates that are compatible with this foam proportioning system. Refer to manual.” Previously, this instruction said “types of foam concentrates compatible with system design.”

    If an inline eductor system is provided, the following information shall be provided on the plate:

    • Maximum hose length using 11⁄2-, 13⁄4- and two-inch.
    • Allowable elevation changes.
    • A statement that says, “Flow rate of the nozzle must match the flow rate of the system.”

    If an around-the-pump system is provided, the following information shall be provided on the plate:

    • Maximum intake pressure or required intake to discharge pressure differential.
    • A table to indicate flow rate and the corresponding metering valve setting.

    System Accuracy

    The accuracy of the foam system in the previous standard stated that the system shall be accurate throughout the manufacturer’s stated range of flows and pressures.

    This was expanded in the new standard to, “The foam proportioning system shall be type tested and certified by the system manufacturer to be accurate throughout the declared range of water flow, water pressure, foam percentage, and concentrate viscosity.”

    A table is provided to show the minimum test points for certification of the system. The foam accuracy percentage requirements remained the same.

    The final installer is required to test and certify the foam system and deliver documentation with the apparatus that the system complies with the requirements of the standard.


    I detected only one change in this chapter. The air pressures shall automatically be balanced to the water pressure to within minus 0 to plus 10 percent throughout the operational range of the CAFS. Previously, it was plus or minus 10 percent up to the rated pressure of the air compressor.


    The previous standard did not require but had some information about using a supplementary grounding electrode (ground rod). This has been removed in the new standard, and an Annex item states that the use of a ground rod is not recommended.

    Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

    Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) are permitted but are not required except on special service vehicles with a lavatory, sink, toilet, shower, or tub having receptacles within six feet.

    Generators Requiring Elevated Engine Speed

    Generators requiring elevated or fixed engine speed of the main propulsion engine shall have a governor capable of maintaining the engine speed required to meet output specifications.

    An interlock to prevent engagement of the generator and electronic throttle controls unless the park brake is engaged and transmission is in neutral or not connected to drive wheels is required.

    Where the engine drives the generator and electronic throttle controls are provided, an interlock to prevent engine speed control from any other source that would interfere with the generator while it is operating is required. On an apparatus with a fire pump or aerial device, a special or alternate interlock system might be necessary.

    Waveform Created Electronically

    If the power output waveform is electronically created, the purchaser shall specify whether modified sine wave or pure sine wave output is required. Some sensitive equipment such as computers, battery chargers, and some medical equipment might require pure sine wave electric. The purchaser should consider what equipment is being powered from the power source and verify with the equipment manufacturer that it is compatible before specifying a power source.

    Shoreline Power

    If shoreline power is provided, the protective ground is to be bonded to the vehicle frame. The neutral conductor is to be switched through the transfer switch as well (photo 24).

    (24) Shore line power connections must be bonded to the vehicle frame.
    Click here to enlarge image


    Load Balancing

    Where the power source is 120/240 volts and 120-volt loads are connected, the apparatus manufacturer or system installer shall consider load balancing to the extent that it is possible. In a 240-volt system, two 120-volt legs are provided. Balancing involves trying to get an equal number of like loads on each leg. For instance, if a number of scene lights are being provided, they should be split between each leg to balance the load.


    Electrical continuity is to be verified from the chassis or body to all line voltage enclosures, light housings, motor housings, light poles, switch boxes, and receptacle ground connections that are accessible to firefighters in normal operations.

    If the apparatus is equipped with a transfer switch that switches between a landline and an onboard power source, it is to be tested to verify operation.

    If the generator is driven by the chassis engine and the generator allows for variable speed operation, the engine shall be reduced to the lowest rpm allowed for generator operation and the voltage and frequency recorded.

    Testing a portable generator connected to fixed wiring on the apparatus does not need to be done with the pump running unless it is mounted in an area subjected to a rise in ambient temperature greater than 30 degrees from the engine, pump, or other heat source.


    Two minor changes were made in this chapter, and both involve requirements that were removed. Removed was the requirement that a command center have a minimum 25-square-foot floor space. Also removed was that the interior surfaces shall be designed to sustain usage expected in a command area (photo 25).

    (25) Minimum square foot floor space was removed from the command center section. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
    Click here to enlarge image



    Removed was that caps or quick disconnect type fitting on panels shall have a 4:1 safety factor.

    A wording change dealing with training on breathing air equipment was included. It went from the contractor shall provide training to the fire department personnel to a person certified by the breathing air compressor manufacturer shall provide the training.

    A temperature sensing device with audible and visual alarm at the fill station when ambient temperatures exceed 140 degrees in the compressor compartment was included (photo 26).

    (26) Breathing air compressors require a high-temperature alarm and instructions not to obstruct air flow around the equipment. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
    Click here to enlarge image

    The final stage installer must provide the warning label “Do not obstruct air flow path with equipment mounting” in the compressor area.

    An air quality monitoring system is required on a compressor.

    Compressors that are powered by electric motors will need a shoreline power connection to permit the compressors to operate in the fire station.

    A warning label needs to be provided at the purifier chambers stating: “Prior to changing purifier cartridges or performing service or maintenance on the purifier system, release all air pressure in the air compressor system.”

    The air tank manufacturer must provide either Department of Transportation or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) certificates for the air tanks on the unit, and they are to be delivered with the apparatus.

    Air tank gauges were changed slightly. For systems that are capable only of bulk filling, a minimum of a single gauge shall be provided. For systems that are capable of cascade filling, gauges shall be provided for each individually controlled tank or sets of tanks.

    The testing and certification of an enclosed air refill station is required to be type tested to validate its design. The requirements of the testing were changed somewhat from the previous standard (photo 27).

    (27) Testing and certification of the air refill station are required to validate its design. Here an exploded SCBA cylinder is displayed.
    Click here to enlarge image

    Added was that all high-pressure (over 300 psi) air hose and couplings shall have a pressure rating equal to or greater than the highest pressure expected to be encountered as input to the hose with a test safety factor of 4:1.

    The minimum inside diameter of low-pressure air hose was changed from 1⁄2 inch to 3⁄8 inch.

    Added to the breathing air system testing and delivery section was: “Verify that any leaks detected during testing are repaired.” On units with a compressor/purification system, it was added to confirm that the system is installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements and that the cooling air flow is adequate.

    The contractor must deliver the apparatus with the air tanks, piping, hoses, and reels charged to a pressure of 40 psi. Previously, 100 psi was required.


    The only change that is to apply to all winches is that the winch is to be provided with free spooling clutch accessible without reaching under the apparatus or be remotely controlled if the winch is not accessible.

    Chapter 26: Trailers

    This chapter is all new and applies to trailers transporting equipment or other vehicles under emergency response conditions and shall be considered fire apparatus. A brief overview of some of the significant requirements is provided here (photo 28).

    (28) For the first time, trailers are included in the standard. Shown is a Type I unit. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
    Click here to enlarge image

    The classifications of the trailers are as follows:

    • Type I: Designed to remain connected to the tow vehicle and dependent on each other to provide electrical power and conspicuity.
    • Type II: Designed to allow separation from tow vehicle after arrival and not dependent on tow vehicle to provide electrical power and conspicuity.
    • Type III: Open trailers designed to transport other vehicles, equipment, or containers that will be removed after arrival and that will not be blocking right-of-way during the incident (“low-boy” hauling a bulldozer).

    Brakes. A trailer with a 3,000-pound GVWR or greater must be equipped with a braking system on each axle. The brake system is to incorporate a method to limit trailer movement in the event of a hitch failure.

    Suspension and Wheels

    Tires and rims shall not carry loads in excess of the recommended load for the operation of the tires. If the angle of departure is less than eight degrees, the trailer must be equipped with a means to prevent damage if the rear contacts the ground.

    Trailer Hitch

    The trailer hitch must meet or exceed the GVWR of the trailer. Two safety chains are required for trailer hitches designed to use safety chains. A method of attachment of chains to towing vehicle must be provided. When using a fifth wheel hitch, the trailer body design shall allow a full 90° jackknifing of the tow vehicle trailer combination when all doors and exterior mounted items are stowed.

    Wheel Chocks

    Trailers classified as Type II or Type III require four wheel chocks, mounted in a readily accessible location. Chocks must be designed to hold the trailer on a 10-percent grade when the trailer is loaded to its GVWR and parked independently of the tow vehicle.

    Low-Voltage Electrical

    • Type I or Type II trailers require a “Hazard warning light” to indicate open doors or equipment deployed.
    • Power supply: If Type I, it must meet all of the requirements of Chapter 13, low voltage and optical warning devices, that apply to all apparatus.

    If Type II, the combined load for clearance, marker, and optical warning light shall not exceed 45 amps. An onboard power source shall be provided to power all trailer electrical loads on a continuous basis. If a line voltage power source is used, it shall meet the requirements of Chapter 22 (line voltage electrical).

    If Type III, the combined electrical load for clearance, marker, and optical warning shall not exceed 45 amps.

    • Umbilical cords constructed with cables that comply with Chapter 13 are to be protected from chaffing damage and are able to move freely throughout the trailer’s operating range. The types of cables and colors to be used for each function are identified to standardize trailer use between tow vehicles.

    Optical Warning Devices

    • Optical warning requirements for Type I trailers must meet all of the apparatus warning light requirements, considering the combined tow vehicle and trailer as a single unit with its overall length.
    • Type II trailers must meet all of the apparatus warning light requirements when considering the trailer as a single unit. The only exception is that Zone A (front) lighting is only to operate when the tow vehicle is disconnected and its onboard power source is operational.
    • Type III trailers need to meet the warning light requirements only for the lower sides and rear zones.

    Work Lighting

    Type I and II trailers require ground lighting in areas where personnel climb on and off the trailer, the same as standard apparatus. Working surfaces, steps, and walkways are to be equipped with surface lighting. Interior spaces and compartments need to be illuminated the same as other apparatus (photo 29).

    (29) The interior and work surfaces of a trailer are required to be illuminated. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
    Click here to enlarge image


    Stop, Tail and Directional Lighting

    Stop, tail, and directional lighting are required the same as on any apparatus.

    Electrical System Performance Tests

    Low-voltage and line-voltage electrical systems need to be tested in accordance with the corresponding chapters in the standard.

    Reflective Markings

    Type I trailers are to meet the requirements of reflective marking with the tow vehicle and trailer as a single unit with its overall length. Type II trailers must meet requirements when considering the trailer as a single unit.


    I have spent many hours painstakingly comparing the draft document to the 2003 standard to sum up the changes. If you are purchasing a piece of fire apparatus, you should obtain, read, and understand the requirements of the standard. The standard has been written for your benefit, so use it!