NFPA 1901 Revisions Take Effect; Most Are Safety-Related

central tire inflation system
A central tire inflation system will meet the requirements of 4.13.4, although individual tire pressure indicators will be less expensive.

Seat belt monitoring systems
Seat belt monitoring systems are available from Fire Research, Akron/Weldon and Class 1, as well as some of the custom chassis builders.

The upgraded 2009 edition of the National Fire Protection Association 1901 apparatus standard is in effect for new orders signed after Jan. 1, and prices are going up.

Many of the changes are safety related, and some are more significant than others. While price increases never make buyers or manufacturers happy, all the upgrades were debated and approved by NFPA task forces, as well as the fire service through public comments and 1901 committee votes.

As a reminder, the 1901 committee membership is split equally between fire service representatives (one-third), independent experts, including insurance representatives and certifying agencies, (one-third) and manufacturers (one-third). The chairman has always been a fire service person, usually a chief, and most of the experts and the manufacturers’ representatives are or have been fire service members.

The work done by NFPA committees takes a great deal of time in listening to the proposed changes, researching, drafting proposed wording, explaining how the new verbiage will improve the standard, voting at the task force and full committee level and going through the public comment stage.

It is a long, laborious, sometimes boring process that must be done in order to get the best standard possible. It may not be a perfect system, but it sure beats the alternative of having a Washington bureaucrat setting the rules.

What follows is an overview of the significant changes included in the 2009 version of NFPA 1901, Standards For Automotive Fire Apparatus. The NFPA Section number is noted following each paragraph..

The manufacturer must provide a detailed statement describing any apparatus components that will not be fully compliant with the 2009 version of NFPA 1901. In other words, if you intend to have a local shop finish some items, such as applying the reflective striping, the manufacturer’s statement accompanying delivery will note that in writing. ( and 4.21)

A vehicle data recorder (VDR) is required to monitor and record speed, acceleration, deceleration, RPM, throttle position, ABS breaking, the master optical warning switch position, seat and seat belt situation and the time and date. Operating software must be supplied and be password protected. (4.11)

Rollover stability requirements are set forth and may be met in a number of ways. The apparatus must be tilt table tested to 26.5 degrees unless the calculated center of gravity is no higher than 80 percent of the rear axle track width. Otherwise the rig must be equipped with a stability control system. Any one of the three options is acceptable. (4.13.1) Apparatus with a high center of gravity seem to suffer more rollover accidents.

The required tire pressure monitoring system can have individual tire indicators or a single system monitoring all tires. (4.13.4)

The top speeds for new apparatus are limited according to their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Most pumpers and rescues, as well as smaller tankers, fall between 26,000- and 50,000 GVWR and are limited to 68 mph. Tankers, quints and aerial apparatus over 50,000 GVWR are limited to 60 mph.

Step ladders meeting American National Standard Institute standards A14.2 or A14.5 may be substituted for the previously required folding ladder. ( Here is where the Alco-Lite, or Duo-Safety combination ladders will add a useful new tool to pumpers. An approved Little Giant step ladder also can be substituted for the folding attic ladder.

All apparatus must be equipped with the following before being placed in service: five traffic cones, five flares, one ANSI-approved traffic vest for each seat and one automatic external defibrillator (AED).

Allowed weight for firefighters is now 250 lbs when calculating in-service weight. (12.1.2)

Diesel engine particulate filters need two separate activation systems and the exhaust temperature cannot exceed 851 degrees Fahrenheit. ( and (

Seat belt color must be orange or red, the length has been increased, and a seat belt warning system is now required. ( and (

Fire helmets are not to be worn in the cab, but if stored there they must be secured like all other cab equipment. (

All primary rear view mirrors have to be adjustable from the driver’s position. (14.3.5) If the driver cannot adjust a mirror without leaving the seat, then it must be remote controlled.

At least 50 percent of the rear exterior vertical surface must be covered with 6-inch fluorescent, reflective, red and yellow (or yellow-green) chevron striping to increase highway visability (

A pressure or flow gauge is required for every discharge 1.5 inches or larger. (

All water tanks shall have a means of flushing them. (18.2.2)

Aerial ladders must have a rated minimum height of 50 feet and permanently mounted waterway systems are optional on straight aerials but required for elevating platforms and water towers. (19.2.2) (19.6 and others)

All aerial ladders must have a minimum tip load capacity of 250 lbs and elevating platforms need to be tested for 750 lbs when horizontal and at maximum extension with stabilizers fully deployed. (19.3.1 and 19.8.1)

Additional requirements apply to aerials that can operated with the stabilizers short-jacked and an interlock is required to prevent operation in an unstable position. These trucks must have an indicator to show maximum aerial extension depending on climbing angle and stabilizer jack position. (19.17.5 and

Where there is a knuckle in the aerial device, such as with the E-One Bronto or the Rosenbauer America Cobra, the knuckle shall have position lights and reflective paint or retroreflective striping. (19.18.11).

The final installer of a foam system must test and certify that it meets the foam system manufacturer’s standards and has been calibrated and tested in accordance with the test parameters in 20.11.1.

Three Classes Of Trailers

Compressed air foam (CAF) systems, must balance air pressure to water pressure within -0/+10 percent. (21.2.4)

Chapter 26 regarding trailers is an all new and sets the requirements for warning lights, striping, wiring, suspension, brakes, power supplies, work lighting and Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) type lighting for the three classes of trailers.

Type I is a permanently attached trailer such as you see with tractor drawn aerial ladders.

Type II trailers are designed to be detached at the scene and be self sufficient with electrical power, work lights and conspicuity. These may include, but not be limited to, command, mass casualty or hazardous material type units.

Type III trailers haul other units or equipment, such as bulldozers or containers. They are not for blocking the right-of-way during an incident.

These are just some of the changes in NFPA 1901 for 2009. The Committee’s objectives to improve safety in the fire service and prompt manufacturers to produce more efficient apparatus. Reducing the annual number of deaths and injuries associated with fire apparatus operations is paramount.

Editor’s Note: Bob Barraclough is a 40-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 Akron Brass 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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