Compartment Corner

By Mike Ciampo

Welcome to this addition of “Compartment Corner.” From time to time we’ll feature articles on various types of tool compartments and their layouts. In addition, we’ll present photos and video of these compartments and the tools that are in them on different types of fire apparatus. Hopefully, by reading this column, you’ll be able to design a layout for your needs, find an answer to a mounting issue, requisition another type of tool, or look at the ways others have created solutions or innovations to make their compartments work for them.

Tower Ladder Saw Compartment
On this Seagrave tower ladder, the left rear compartment is dedicated to the company’s saws. Having all the saws in one centralized area makes it easy for members to know their location in an emergency. The compartment is fitted with a roll out tray at the bottom, a center fixed shelf, and a top transverse shelf.

Bottom Roll-Out Tray
The roll-out tray has three brackets installed for rotary saw storage. Two chainsaws are also on the tray and interlock to prevent them from sliding around the compartment during travel (photo 1). A slight modification was added to the saw brackets: a hole was drilled into the front bracket and another through the bottom of the tray at the front. An eye hook was bolted through the front hole using a Teflon nut. (photo 2) A rubber bungee cord is attached to the eye hook and the front bracket to hold the saws in place better while driving (photo 3 and photo 4). Under the saw housing, a fabric mat is installed to absorb some of the shock of the road and any fluids or debris that may come off the saw. Many departments have plastic or rubber tray liners to also absorb some road vibrations. If you’re doing numerous runs, it’s important to note that the equipment mounted behind the dual wheels may “bounce” around a bit more than if it’s in front of the wheels. Remember to ensure the handles and screws are tight and all in place when performing tool equipment checks.

This particular department runs three rotary saws (Husqvarna K750, K970, and K960) with different blades: a diamond grit blade, Wart Hog blade, and a 12 tooth carbide tip blade. After facing different fireground situations the department felt it was better equipped to handle matters that arise with a variety of blades. The saws are marked with a sticker identifying that they have 1” arbors (photo 5). This is because some older saws in the department have other size arbors. Or if it runs a mutual aid run with another department and interchange blades, they are prepared to put the proper size blade on.

The truck is also equipped with two chain saws, one (Stihl MS 460) set up for roof operations and a smaller saw (Stihl MS 200T) set up to remove light tree branches if tower ladder operations must be performed. This saw has a short bar and is lightweight. These two factors make removing a limb from the tower ladder bucket a safer operation. The chain saws are also marked with a label that informs the firefighters that small engine fuel (SEF) is only used in them per this department’s procedures (photo 6).

Middle Shelf
The middle shelf is equipped with two polypropylene boxes for tool storage. Box 1 has an air stapler, two air hoses, regulator, duct tape, and staples. This equipment has been used to secure plastic over roof holes or windows during salvage operations (photo 7). Having this equipment in a box with carrying handles built in allows it to be deployed t rapidly. Plus, it keeps all the same equipment stowed together. Box 2 is the saw accessory box equipped with spare blades, chains, bar oil, extra saw straps, fuel cans, and saw accessory tool pouch.

Also on this shelf are: a five-gallon contractor nail and screw bucket with an assortment of nails/screws to meet the job at hand, electric-powered worm-driven circular saw, a cordless reciprocal saw, an electric screw gun, and a tool box (hammers, utility knives, pliers, keyhole saw, screw driver, and so on). Both boxes are labeled with stickers identifying their inventory to assist firefighters in keeping the tools in the proper places (photo 8).

Top Transverse Shelf
A stokes basket and Little Giant ladder are the two items that transverse this compartment and can be removed from either side. Spare lath and a roll of salvage plastic are also stored on this shelf (photo 9).

MIKE CIAMPO is a 27-year veteran of and a lieutenant in the Fire Department of New York. Previously, he served with the District of Columbia Fire Department. He has a bachelor’s degree in fire science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, NY. He is the lead instructor of the FDIC Truck Co. Essentials class. He wrote the ladder chapter and co-authored the Ventilation chapter for Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II and is featured in “Training Minutes” truck company videos on He is also the author of Fire Engineering’s monthly column “On Fire.”

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