Fire Apparatus Manufacturers' Association

Body Access


Body Access

Prepared by the FAMA Body Subcommittee

This guide does not endorse any manufacturer or product



As fire apparatus grow larger, having access to upper areas where equipment is stored presents a challenge.  When writing specifications for new apparatus, agencies need to properly plan how to provide safe access to various areas on the apparatus.  Departments should strive to keep firefighters as safe as possible while on and around the apparatus. Climbing about on the truck can lead to potential injury and should be avoided at all times if possible, especially in wet or icy conditions. To safely provide access, consider adding vehicle ladders and steps to often-accessed areas, such as pump panels, hose beds, and rooftop coffin compartments. By providing appropriate vehicle ladders and steps, the risk of knee, ankle and other injuries can be reduced.

NFPA Standards 1901 and 1906, Chapter 15.7 lists requirements for stepping, standing and walking surfaces including steps and access ladders including entry and exit steps from the cab of the apparatus. Chapter 15.8 lists requirements for handrails and handholds.


This buyer’s guide explains the various types of access options that are available for fire apparatus. Component and apparatus manufacturers should be consulted for the latest information, and options available, as well as installation and maintenance concerns. You may find a listing of these manufacturers in the Manufacturers Guide at

Access Ladders

Vehicle ladders can be rigid, non-movable, or can store tightly against the truck body and pull out to a comfortable climbing angle when needed. This gives the firefighter a safer, sturdier way to access higher areas of the apparatus, with rough-grip handrails to hold onto and an angled step to assist with transporting equipment and hose without losing balance. Optional lighting may be available.

Vehicle Steps

Vehicle steps can be permanent, manual fold-down or automated.  Automatic steps can be wired to the electrical system to open when the door is opened and close when the door is closed. For other areas, such as the pump panel or rear hosebed, manual pull-out steps can be provided. Options include individual step lighting.

Handrails and Handholds

Handrails and handholds are required in several locations to assist in ascending or descending areas accessed by steps and access ladders. Many options are available for the slip resistant material and optional lighting.

Back to Top