Ingenuity Provides Protection For Men Riding on Apparatus
Back steps, tiller seats, open cabs enclosed with variety of materials ranging from clear plastic to steel to meet department requirements
“The installation should be as simple as possible.”
This was the recommendation of Chief David B. Gratz, Silver Spring, Md., in referring to additional protective enclosures for fire fighters riding on apparatus. In an expanded reply to our recent Round Table on this subject, Gratz also stated that:
The enclosures should be standardized as much as possible for the variety of apparatus that a department might have. And that they should be designed with a year-round benefit in mind as well as the benefits derived during civil disturbances. Gratz also feft that the protective enclosures should be designed to look as though they were part of the original equipment. This he considered important not only for appearance but for psychological reasons as well.
Technician Eldridge Brown of the Silver Spring Department made the enclosures from heavy, flame-retardant red vinyl. Material costs about $35.00 for a pumper and $60.00 for an aerial truck.
According to Chief John T. O’Hagan, all new apparatus being delivered to New York City comes equipped with adequate protective enclosures. All older equipment has been modified for the same effect.
Enclosures for older pumpers are similar in design to that used by Silver Spring. These are made from nylon and plywood that provide a permanent cover over the front seat, a removable bow assembly that supports a cover for the center of the apparatus and a permanent cover for the back step.
Permanent plywood enclosures have been built in the New York shops for older aerials. These cover open cabs and the tiller windshield and seat.
Plainfield, N.J., under Chief John P. Townley, has one of its engine companies entirely protected by a metal roof. The unit strongly resembles the famed covered wagon of the pioneer days. Like New York, Plainfield covers the target spots on aerials with ¾-inch plywood.
Wire cage used
In a departure from the cloth and plywood design, Chief John Malloy of Wilmington, Del., resorted to heavygage wire screen enclosures. These followed the standard pattern of protection for cab, backstep and tiller. However, the chief also thought of the men who might have to ride on the side of a ladder truck. Two-man cages, one on each running board of the trailer, have been installed on the department’s aerial trucks.
The department shops constructed most of the above enclosures, others were done locally.
However, Philadelphia, under Deputy Commissioner W. J. Eckles, Fire Fighting Forces, and Boston, Chief J. C. Clougherty, used Plexiglass for some of their enclosures, which were custom built. Philadelphia is now receiving Plexiglass tillerman canopies for 34 aerials at a cost of $755.00 each.
Boston recently accepted delivery of an aerial that has a sliding canopy to cover the tillerman. Steel-framed, the unit has over 50 percent of the side areas covered by ⅝-inch Plexiglass.
Clougherty stated that the material can withstand heavy missiles and small arms fire.
Fire chiefs feel that crowd harassment will be with them for a long time. They acted quickly to provide their men with protection and will no doubt see that all new apparatus will have even better protection.