By Alan Saulsbury
According to the U.S. Fire Administration's Fire Service Needs Assessment, researched by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and published in December 2002, 16 percent of all fire engines (pumpers) are 15–19 years old; 21 percent are 20–29 years old; 13 percent (more than 10,000) are more than 30 years old. The report concludes that more than half of all fire engines are more than 15 years old.
Significant changes in NFPA Standards (1901, 1906, 1911, 1912, 1914 and 1915) in the past 13 years have resulted in dramatic new safety improvements in fire apparatus. The recent release of the 2003 edition of NFPA 1901 noted a new section, Annex D, referencing apparatus replacement or refurbishment. This document now outlines the basic requirements for a first-line response apparatus vs. reserve apparatus. In addition, Annex D provides guidelines on items to be refurbished and updated.
Every fire department has a responsibility to provide safe apparatus and equipment for its personnel to safely perform their responsibilities to their community. The apparatus should be compliant with national standards and must also adhere to state and local requirements.
Fire departments should audit their fleets in comparison to the following new definitions: