BY KEITH GUNUSKEY
This was an idea that our fire company came up with while awaiting the arrival of our new engine: Instead of waiting until the new truck arrived to detail where we would put all of our equipment, we decided to build a model of the body ourselves and figure out where everything would go. That would limit the arguments over compartmentation when the new truck arrived and allow us to put the truck into service much more quickly.
To build the model, we framed the compartments according to our specifications using one-inch wood donated by a local lumberyard and used cardboard to show the actual compartment size and arrangement. It took six people (two were carpenters) four and a half hours one evening to build the body model.
What we ended up with was an exact replica of the truck body (photo 1). It made us rethink some of the decisions that we had made regarding compartment height and depth, among other body design flaws we picked out.
Because we had an accurate idea of what the truck would look like, we made three change orders after we built our body model. Fortunately, the apparatus builder was still waiting for the cab/chassis to be delivered.
Photos by author.
This enabled us to order ahead of time brackets, mounts, and other hardware that can delay putting a truck into service for weeks. Instead, all the hardware needed was available when the truck arrived. Everything was mounted, and the truck was put into service in a matter of days (photo 2).
Local chiefs and other fire department members have stopped in and marveled at this simple but helpful aid in designing apparatus compartmentation. ■
■ KEITH GUNUSKEY is a captain with the Texas #4 Fire Company of the Honesdale (PA) Fire Department, where he has served for 15 years, three of them as rescue captain. A nationally certified firefighter I and haz mat awareness technician, he is also a certified vehicle extrication technician.