Standard To Be Updated For Wildland Apparatus

This KME is considered one of the Cadillacs of wildland rigs and can mount a credible structural attack.
This KME is considered one of the Cadillacs of wildland rigs and can mount a credible structural attack. Pump sizes in these types of trucks usually range from 500 to 1,250 gpm with tanks in the 500 to 750-gallon range. (RJB Photo)
Foster Rescue and several other manufacturers offer units like this
Foster Rescue and several other manufacturers offer units like this. (RJB Photo)

Yes, there is a difference between the National Fire Protection Association 1901 and 1906 standards, and NFPA 1906 is about to be updated.

NFPA 1901 covers automotive fire apparatus (structural pumpers, mobile water supply units, initial attack trucks, aerial devices and foam pumpers) for structural firefighting, while the 1906 standard deals with vehicles that are designed primarily for supporting wildland fire suppression operations.

The NFPA 1901 committee has overall responsibility for NFPA 1906 as well as NFPA 1911 (in-service testing) and NFPA 1912 (refurbishing). To manage the updating of 1906, a task force was appointed, and it met in January to begin developing committee proposals.

While many requirements are the same in both the 1901 and 1906 standards, there are some differences in 1906, such as under-vehicle clearance, specified miscellaneous equipment, hose storage (if any), minimum pump capacity (10 gpm) and minimum tank size (50 gallons).

The new requirements in NFPA 1901 for traffic vests and cones, automated external defibrillators (AEDs), vehicle data recorders (VDRs), 250-pound per person weight allowances and seat belt systems have also been proposed for inclusion in 1906.

In answer to those who question if riding on the outside of a wildland vehicle is OK, there is already a requirement in 1906 that says, “A sign (or labels) shall be located at the rear step area and at any cross walkways to warn personnel that riding in or on these areas while the vehicle is in motion is prohibited.” In case you are wondering why, just ask the fire department in Abilene, Texas, where a brush rig recently rolled over, injuring three firefighters riding on the outside of the apparatus.

State and federal wildland agencies have been very active in the updating process – apparently in hope that 1906 will be more closely aligned with the current wildland standards being used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) and many state agencies. This could lead to problems as municipal fire departments certainly have different needs for their brush (wildland) units than some of the federal agencies.

To help clarify what the NWCG folks currently use as a standard and what they would like NFPA to adopt, take a look at the accompanying table that lists the type of unit, pump and tank size, plus some of the equipment that should be carried.

It’s hard to imagine that a municipal department would be comfortable with a Type 7 first line brush truck with a 10-gpm pump and 50 gallons of water.

Even experts would be confused by a proposal to have NFPA 1906 list seven different types of trucks that could have as many as 39 different combinations of pump gpm and psi ratings. How does a department pick the right combination?

It looks like the committee has a few bumps in the road to get a document that will serve both the feds and the local departments.

Another hiccup may be the inclusion of major tankers/tenders in the wildland vehicle document. NFPA 1901 has a very good chapter on mobile water supply units that seems to fulfill the needs of fire departments. Not sure why we need two different tanker standards. Or, as a matter of fact, why the pumper standard in 1901 will not work for Type 1 and 2 wildland pumpers where the rigs must have structural capability? Sounds confusing, doesn’t it? Well, it is, even for those of us who have had many years experience developing the 1901 standard.

There are quite a few other changes being offered so it should be an interesting year as the 1901 committee goes through the proposals.

Here is the schedule for the development of the updated 1906 standard:

  • May 28: Proposals for changes to 1906 are due to NFPA.
  • July 21-22: The 1901 committee and 1906 task group meet in Baltimore to consider requested changes.
  • October: 1901 Committee votes on proposals.
  • December 28: Report on proposals (ROP) issued by NFPA.
  • March 5, 2010: Last day for public comments on ROP.
  • July 16, 2010: Deadline for 1901 and 1906 committees to submit answers and comments to public comments on ROP.

If you have changes you would like to see or some improvements that you think should be made, now is the time to act. Public proposals are being accepted until May 28 for changes to the 2006 edition of 1906.


In the back of the NFPA 1906 standard, you will find the form to use for proposals on NFPA technical documents. When proposing a change, fill this document out, sign it and send it to the Secretary of the Standards Council, NFPA, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269-9101.

We will keep you informed throughout the year about the status of the project.

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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