Associations, Engine Company, Fire Department

NFPA 1901 Says You Have To Have What?

Issue 3 and Volume 15.

Netting, canvas with straps or aluminum hose bed covers will  meet the requirement to restrain a hose load. Make sure all  of your hose loads have covers.
Netting, canvas with straps or aluminum hose bed covers will 
meet the requirement to restrain a hose load. Make sure all 
of your hose loads have covers.


Open seating and standing areas such as shown here should  not be occupied any time the vehicle is in motion. Too many  times a vehicle like this falls in an unseen ditch, rolls over and  ejects the firefighters. It is unsafe.
Open seating and standing areas such as shown here should 
not be occupied any time the vehicle is in motion. Too many 
times a vehicle like this falls in an unseen ditch, rolls over and 
ejects the firefighters. It is unsafe.

Can you believe this? Twin Roto-Rays on the same rig. Maybe  there’s room for two Mars lights too.  (Fire Apparatus Photo by Bob Barraclough)
Can you believe this? Twin Roto-Rays on the same rig. Maybe 
there’s room for two Mars lights too. 
(Fire Apparatus Photo by Bob Barraclough)

A correct application of red and yellow 6-inch striping on at  least 50 percent of the vertical surface at the rear of a rig.     (Fire Apparatus Photo by Bob Barraclough)
A correct application of red and yellow 6-inch striping on at 
least 50 percent of the vertical surface at the rear of a rig.    
(Fire Apparatus Photo by Bob Barraclough)

There seems to be a lot of confusion over what is required by the National Fire Protection Association 1901 apparatus standard, what has to be supplied new and what has to included on a rig before it is placed in service.

Let’s see if we can unravel some of the mystery and myths associated with meeting the requirements of NFPA 1901.

Other than what you would expect to get on a new truck, such as a pump, water tank, body with compartments, warning lights and siren, there are only two new items that must be supplied by the contractor (this is the builder) on pumpers:
     • The ladders – one straight with roof hooks, one extension and one folding.
     • The hose – 20 feet of intake hose with strainer or 15 feet of supply hose.

That’s it, but note they must be new. No more moving up the wood ladders and the hard suction hose from that soon-to-be-replaced ’46 Mack.

In addition to the manufacturer-supplied items, there is a requirement for other equipment that shall be available on the pumper before it is placed in service.

A detailed list of who is to furnish the equipment and the method for organizing and mounting these items shall be supplied by the purchasing authority. That means if you are the buyer and you do not specify the following items, then they will not be a part of the bid package. It will be the responsibility of the fire department to ensure they are on the rig before it is placed in service.
This listing is for pumpers although there are similar requirements for aerial devices, mobile water supply vehicles (tankers), foam rigs and initial attack vehicles.

The minimum equipment list for pumpers is found on page 23, paragraphs 5.8.2 and 5.8.3 of NFPA 1901. Abbreviated, it requires 800 feet of 2 ½-inch or larger hose, 400 feet of 1 ½-inch or larger hand lines, four nozzles, axes, pike poles, hand lights, a dry chemical and a water extinguisher, SCBAs, spare cylinders, traffic vests, cones, tarps and miscellaneous hose fittings.

Obviously, departments may want to carry additional tools in order to cover special requirements of their territory or maybe because they have extra space to fill.

I can’t stress enough that it is the fire department’s responsibility to identify who is to supply and mount the required equipment and to ensure that it is done. Do not put the pumper or other rig in service unless the minimum required equipment is on the vehicle. If you do, you are assuming liability if something goes wrong.

On units contracted for after Jan. 1, 2010, NFPA 1901 says the final assembler of the apparatus shall deliver either a certification that the apparatus fully complies with all requirements of the standard or, alternately, shall produce a “Statement of Exceptions” specifically describing each aspect of the completed apparatus that is not fully compliant with the standard at the time of delivery.

This Statement of Exceptions must detail further changes or modifications that must be completed to achieve full compliance with the standard and who is responsible for making said modifications. Both the buyer and the seller must sign off on the exceptions. Do not place the unit in service until full compliance has been achieved.

The requirement for reflective striping is one area where this has as been a problem in the past. A department may want to have striping installed locally so the manufacturer ships the truck with no reflective material. 

Maybe the local striper doesn’t know NFPA requirements and does his thing the way he thinks it would look best. This is not necessarily a good idea, especially when he misses the whole front of the cab. Not good when the rig has a front-ender and the sharp lawyer says his client couldn’t see the truck because the required striping was not there. That’s a gotcha, and the department would be on the hook. 

NFPA 1901 Myths

I’m not singling out the local guys because some OEMs do not apply the striping correctly, especially on the front. Just look around at the trucks at the next few shows to see who has a problem.
Some of the confusion surrounding NFPA 1901 is due to myths.

NFPA 1901 does not require four or six seats. It only requires two as a minimum.  Therefore, there is no mandate for four-door cabs either. What 1901 does say is that all seating must be in a fully-enclosed area and be equipped with seat belts and a seat belt alarm system. 

Another myth is that all striping must be red, yellow or lime yellow. Not true. Only 50 percent of the rear vertical surface must be 6-inch red stripes alternating with yellow or yellow-green in a chevron pattern. This was done to standardize the appearance of the rear of emergency equipment for increased visibility and recognition by the public. Side and front reflective striping colors may be specified by the fire department.   

One rumor running rampart prior to the 2009 edition of 1901 was that air packs and helmets can no longer be stored in the cab. This was not true. SCBAs or helmets may be stored in the cab, but they must be secured to meet the 9g forward and 3g rollover hold-down requirement. Remember, helmets are for firefighting; they are not crash helmets. They should not be worn when responding, as they may interfere with the top of the air pack bottle.

Another myth: You can’t specify different brands of warning lights on a vehicle. Wrong. You can do this, but it best if you specify a single manufacturer for either of the upper and lower quadrants. The standard defines the required lumens for each quadrant, and warning light manufacturers generally certify a basic package of lights that meet the requirements for either the upper or lower quadrant. So, if you want Whelen for the lower quadrant and Code 3 for the upper or vice versa, go for it. Once the basic requirements are met, you are free to add as many more lights as you like or your budget can stand. Yep, that means the Roto-Ray can be a part of your package.

Covering Hose Beds

Hose beds must be covered. Not a myth, it is true. Any material may be used including netting, but all hose storage areas must have some means of securing the hose. This has been a requirement for several years, but accidents are still happening. One of the latest was in Cambridge, Mass., where of a length of hose fell off a rig and struck and killed a pedestrian.

Clipboards and spotlights in the cab do not need to be secured. This is false. Actually all loose equipment in a cab must be secured. This is a safety item and one that is frequently violated. This requires constant supervision by drivers and officers to ensure compliance.  

NFPA 1901 is 200 pages of requirements to help fire departments specify a good basic apparatus. Manufacturers are supposed to know and understand what is in the standard and what it means. If you have a question, ask several builders what their interpretation is or call the NFPA and talk to Larry Stewart, the staff liaison for the 1901 committee. 

Stay safe and spec safe trucks.

Editor’s Note: Bob Barraclough is a 50-year veteran of the fire service and fire manufacturing industry. He is chief columnist for Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment magazine and a 20-year member of the NFPA 1901 Fire Apparatus Standards Committee. A principal organizer of the annual FDSOA Apparatus Specification Symposium, he is also a past president of the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers Association. Barraclough serves as a consultant to Rosenbauer America and is called upon as an expert witness in litigation involving fire industry products. His career includes executive positions at E-ONE, Hale Fire Pumps, National Foam, Span Instruments and Class 1.


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