The National Fire Protection Association`s Fire Department Apparatus Committee is proposing to restructure and expand the requirements for fire department apparatus. The restructuring proposes to reassemble the four standards–NFPA 1901, Standard for Pumper Fire Apparatus; NFPA 1902, Standard for Initial Attack Fire Apparatus; NFPA 1903, Standard for Mobile Water Supply Fire Apparatus; and NFPA 1904, Standard for Aerial Ladder and Elevating Platform Fire Apparatus–into a single document and to include requirements for special service vehicles. Special service vehicles include apparatus to support rescue operations, hazardous materials spill or leak mitigation, lighting and electric power generation, SCBA refilling, and incident management and communications. Requirements for these special service vehicles were originally going to be covered in a separate standard (NFPA 1905).

The committee found that, after developing the four individual standards in 1991, there was considerable redundancy in the requirements in the individual standards for specific types of fire apparatus. Much of the fire apparatus built today is designed to be multipurpose, crossing the functional areas between standards. In other cases, the fire department wants to design apparatus to support special functions for which there is no specific standard. The revised document addresses these issues by providing the requirements for the traditional types of fire apparatus while also allowing for special designs to support local operations.

The revised document will be called NFPA 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, and will contain 23 chapters. The general arrangement of the document focuses on the requirements for traditional types of apparatus as well as those applicable to all apparatus in the early chapters. The later chapters cover the components that can be assembled into any apparatus. As part of the reorganization, the testing requirements for each component have been included in the same chapter with the requirements for the component. For example, the requirements for the manufacturer`s test of a fire pump are in the fire pump chapter.


Chapter 1 is the administration chapter and deals with the scope and purpose of the document, the responsibilities of the purchaser and contractor, as well as definitions of terms used in the standard.

Chapter 2 defines the general requirements applicable to all apparatus and makes the individual component chapters applicable to any particular type of apparatus using those components.

Chapters 3 through 7 cover the specific requirements for traditional types of apparatus (pumper, initial attack, mobile water supply, aerial ladder and elevating platforms, and special service apparatus). They include the size requirements for major components such as pumps and tanks as well as the amount and type of hose, ground ladders, and other equipment expected to be carried.

Chapter 8 covers the carrying capacity of the apparatus and the engine and engine system design, which includes the cooling, lubrication, fuel and air, and exhaust systems. The requirements in this chapter also cover vehicle components, including the braking system, suspension and wheels, transmission, fuel tank, and tow hooks.

Chapter 9 covers the low voltage (12/24 volt) electrical system and warning devices and defines a minimum continuous electrical load that the apparatus` alternator must be able to supply. The committee also has done considerable research on an adequate minimum emergency lighting package for fire apparatus and has defined those requirements in this chapter.

Chapters 10 and 11 contain the requirements for driving and crew areas and for the body, compartments, and equipment mounting that have been split into separate chapters.

Chapters 12, 13, and 14 deal with pumps on fire apparatus including fire, auxiliary, and water-transfer pumps. The requirements in these chapters have not changed significantly from the requirements in the existing apparatus standards except that, by definition, the minimum size of a fire pump will be 250 gpm at 150 psi net pump pressure. Previously, pumps rated between 250 and 700 gpm were referred to as attack pumps. The testing requirements for fire pumps rated at less than 750 gpm remain as they were for attack pumps.

Chapter 15 deals with water tanks. A significant change in this chapter is the provisions for both a containment method of baffling and a dynamic method of partitioning.

Chapter 16 combines the requirements for aerial ladders and elevating platforms previously in NFPA 1904 and the requirements for water towers in NFPA 1901. Most of the requirements in this chapter remain unchanged. However, water towers have been redefined to include only devices without a ladder on them. Devices with a ladder will be classified as aerial ladders.

Chapter 17 deals with foam-proportioning systems on fire apparatus. This chapter has been updated to reflect changes in system design over the past five years. This is especially true in the appendix material that supports the requirements in the standard where additional diagrams and explanations have been provided.

A new Chapter 18 provides the requirements for compressed air foam systems (CAFS) on fire apparatus. Most of these requirements were originally developed for inclusion in NFPA 1906, Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatus. However, with the increasing use of class A foam and CAFS for structural fires, the committee adapted those requirements for inclusion in the standard as an optional component on fire apparatus.

Chapter 19 covers the requirements for line voltage electrical systems (120/240 volt) and has been expanded to recognize the different environments in which electrical equipment must operate on a fireground. Additional requirements will make wiring on fire apparatus consistent with the intent of the National Electrical Code®. In addition, requirements were added to cover the various methods of on-board electric power generation and power-operated light masts.

With the increasing use of command and communication areas on fire apparatus, the committee developed Chapter 20 in the revised standard to address these areas. Subjects covered in this chapter include location of the area on the apparatus, climate control, noise abatement, lighting levels, working surfaces and countertops, seating, cabinets and equipment storage, wall ceiling and floor surfaces, communications and electrical consoles, computer equipment and its installation, and video equipment.

Chapter 21 is a new chapter on air systems, which are typically used for refilling SCBA cylinders, supplying breathing air lines, and utility air. Cascade-type systems and on-board compressor systems are covered. In addition to requirements for all air systems, specific sections deal with breathing air compressors, purification systems, air storage, boosters, air supply regulation, air control panels, SCBA fill stations, air hose and hose reels, low-pressure utility air supply, and remote breathing air systems.

Chapter 22 covers the requirements for winches. This chapter was originally developed for the standard on wildland fire apparatus, but the committee feels that with the use of winches, particularly on special service vehicles, the requirements should be included in this document. The chapter covers the rating of winches as well as specific requirements for electric and hydraulic winches.

Chapter 23, the last chapter, is a list of all the standards referenced within the standard, together with a source for those standards.

NFPA 1901 will contain two appendices. Appendix A provides explanatory or background information for many of the requirements in the standard or suggestions to consider when purchasing a piece of fire apparatus. They are keyed to the specific paragraph or section to which they apply. Appendix B is an extensive questionnaire that a fire department can use to organize its requirements for a new fire apparatus. Completion of the questionnaire will assist the department as well as the contractor responsible for manufacturing the apparatus.


Although some of the changes to the standard are minor, many are significant. This is a sampling of some of the major changes that will affect the safety and operational efficiency of a new unit. The chapter and section of the standard in which the change appears is listed after each bulleted item below for easy reference.

An antilock braking system, if available from the chassis manufacturer, will be required on all apparatus. (8-3)

An auxiliary braking system (engine brake, electric, or hydraulic retarder) will be required on apparatus with a 36,000-pound or greater GVWR and recommended on apparatus with a 31,000-pound or greater GVWR. (8-3)

The apparatus design must provide for the routine checking of lubricant and fluid levels without tilting the cab. (2-11)

Compartment storage has been increased on pumpers and aerial apparatus from 30 to 40 cubic feet (cu. ft.), on initial attack apparatus from 18 to 22 cu. ft., and on mobile water supply apparatus from 18 to 20 cu. ft. A new requirement of 120 cu. ft. on special service vehicles is included. (3-4, 4-4, 5-4, 6-5, 7-2)

The previous standard required an SCBA and spare cylinder for each riding position (not less than four on pumpers and aerial apparatus). The new standard indicates that an SCBA will be provided for each “assigned seating position.” This allows the purchaser to decide how many air packs to carry, regardless of the number of seats in the apparatus. The minimum is still four for pumpers and aerials and two on initial attack, mobile water supply, and special service apparatus. (3-7, 4-7, 5-7, 6-8, 7-4)

Two preconnects are now required on aerial apparatus equipped with a pump and water tank. (6-6)

A list of equipment that should be considered on special service vehicles is provided for both rescue and haz-mat containment services. (A-7-4) The miscellaneous equipment allowance for this type of vehicle is 3,000 pounds. (8-1)

An engine speed control device to increase the alternator`s output will be required. The system must be interlocked to prevent activation with the parking brake released or the transmission in gear. (8-2)

The fuel tank must have sufficient capacity to allow the apparatus to pump at rated capacity for 212 hours or to operate at 60 percent gross engine horsepower for 212 hours, whichever is greater. The present requirement states a minimum tank size depending on the type of apparatus. (8-3)

Extensive changes to the apparatus are contained in the electrical chapter. Rather than requiring a specific size, it calls for an alternator that has a minimum output, at idle and 200 degrees ambient temperature, to meet the minimum continuous electrical load of the apparatus. This includes the total amperage required to operate the engine and transmission; all clearance and marker lights; radios at a duty cycle of 10 percent transmit and 90 percent receive; the lighting required to illuminate walking surfaces on the apparatus and the ground at all egress points; 50 percent of total compartment light loads; the minimum optical warning system when the apparatus is blocking right-of-way; the continuous electric current required to operate fire pumps, aerial device, and hydraulic pumps; and any other warning devices or loads defined by the purchaser as critical to the mission of the apparatus. (9-3)

–A visual and audible low voltage warning system must be provided to indicate an impending electrical system failure caused by the excessive discharge of the battery set. (9-3)

–If the total connected electrical load of the apparatus exceeds the alternator output, a load management system must be installed. Load managers monitor the electrical system; and when a discharge condition is detected, it automatically begins to shed (shut down) preprogrammed, nonessential electrical loads, such as air-conditioning, heater fans, compartment lights, etc. (9-3)

–The optical warning section is another area that has undergone major revisions. This section calls for the apparatus to be divided into four quadrants: front, rear, left, and right side–as well as upper and lower warning sections. In addition, two modes of optical warning, responding and blocking right-of-way, are defined. Switching between modes automatically will be accomplished by the position of the parking brake. Midship lights in the lower section are required on each side of the apparatus if it is 22 feet or greater in length. Colors allowed in each quadrant, the number of flashes, as well as the rated intensity of the lights are outlined in the standard. The minimum optical warning system shall require no more than 45 amps average for operation (additional allowances for longer apparatus are provided). The manufacturer must certify that the entire optical warning system complies with the standard. (9-8)

–Lighting under the driver and crew cab doors, activated when the doors open, and switched lighting around all work areas are to be provided. (9-10)

–Manufacturer documentation of all required electrical systems tests is required on delivery of the apparatus. (9-15)

Shoulder-type (three-point) seatbelts are required in all forward-facing seats adjacent to side walls. (10-1)

SCBA brackets in the riding compartment are required to have positive locking devices that will withstand a 10-G dynamic deceleration test. (10-1)

All equipment in the riding compartment not required for use while responding must be secured in an enclosed compartment or brackets that will withstand a 10-G deceleration force in any direction. (10-1)

Requirements for overhead equipment racks–including power operation, locking device interlocked with parking brake, front and rear flashing lights on the rack, and reflective trim–are defined. (11-4)

Requirements for vertical and horizontal storage of SCBA cylinders are included. (11-5)

The reflective striping around the perimeter required in the last standard has been reduced slightly. It has gone from 60 percent of the sides and rear to 50 percent, and from 40 percent of the front to 25 percent. (11-9)

The requirements for a pump intake relief system and a separate discharge pressure control in the last standard have been replaced with a performance requirement for discharge pressure control with positive intake pressures to 185 psi. (12-9)

A flowmeter or pressure-indicating device shall be provided for each discharge. However, if flowmeters are used, any discharge 312 inches or larger shall also be equipped with a pressure-indicating device (due to pressure limitations of large-diameter hose). (12-11)

The requirement for a direct fill and tank unloading provisions for water tanks more than 1,000 gallons has been eliminated, except for mobile water supply apparatus. (15-4)

A breathing air system no longer is required on an aerial platform apparatus. The installation requirements, however, are unchanged if the system is provided. (16-7)

The standard now includes speed limitations on aerial ladders that are being operated from secondary tip mounted controls. (16-5)

A change in the interlocking system of aerial apparatus is proposed. Presently, the aerial device cannot be raised from the bed unless the stabilizers are properly deployed. The new standard will allow the aerial device to be raised but not rotated if the stabilizers are not deployed. This will allow for hose repacking or lifting of a tilt cab for maintenance, without deploying the stabilizers. (16-17)

On tillered apparatus, a system is required that will warn the driver when the parking brake is released and a tillerman is not signaling his presence. The present standard does not allow the apparatus engine to start without the tillerman present. (10-3)

The functional grouping of the pump`s main operating controls including master intake and discharge gauges, tachometer, engine oil and temperature gauges, voltmeter, throttle, primer control, tank-to-pump valve, tank fill valve, and tank level indicator–for keeping the pump operator as far as practical from all discharge and intake connections–is required. In addition, all gauges and any operator`s control shall not be more than 72 inches above the level at which the operator stands. (12-11)

This is just a sample of some of the changes contained in the draft. There are many, many more that might affect the way you specify and use your apparatus.


The revised document is currently available for public review and comment. Anyone who wishes to receive a copy of this proposed document may do so by calling the NFPA Customer Service Office at 1-800-344-3555 and requesting the Report on Proposals for the 1996 Annual Meeting. The report of the Fire Department Apparatus Committee, which includes the draft of the revised apparatus standard, is published in that document.

There is no charge for single copies of the Report on Proposals. The front of the Report on Proposals contains a form and instructions for submitting comments to the NFPA for consideration by the Fire Department Apparatus Committee. All comments must be received at NFPA by 5:00 PM EDT on October 13, 1995.

All comments will then be reviewed by the Fire Department Apparatus Committee, and further revisions will be made to the standard based on the committee`s actions on the comments. All comments received, together with what action the committee took on those comments, will be published in a Report on Comments, which is sent automatically to anyone who submits a comment. The committee`s report will be presented to the NFPA membership at the Annual Meeting in May 1996; the new document is expected to be published in late summer 1996.

If you have an interest in apparatus purchasing or specifications, review the draft and present your ideas and comments to the committee. These standards affect all of us, so GET INVOLVED! n

CARL E. PETERSON is the assistant director of the Public Fire Protection Division at NFPA. He serves as staff liaison to the NFPA Fire Department Apparatus Committee.

WILLIAM C. PETERS is battalion chief, supervisor of apparatus and equipment, and a 20-year veteran of the Jersey City (NJ) Fire Department. He is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs Apparatus Maintenance Section, Local 1064 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the Fire Engineering editorial advisory board. Peters is the author of Fire Apparatus Purchasing Handbook (Fire Engineering Books, 1994), two chapters on apparatus in The Fire Chief`s Handbook, Fifth Edition (Fire Engineering Books, 1995), and the booklet Final Farewell to a Fallen Firefighter: A Basic Fire Department Funeral Protocol. He served on the NFPA 1904 aerial task group for the new standard.

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