FAMA BUYER’S GUIDE TC005-2016 FAMA Apparatus Improvement White Paper
NFPA 1901 & 1906 Revision Highlights
NFPA 1901 Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus and NFPA 1906 Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatus
are the guiding documents for apparatus design. As such, Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association
member companies take a very active interest in their content. Changes made to these documents by
the NFPA Apparatus Committee can have significant impact on safety, performance, and cost. The
committee (comprised of fire chiefs, industry experts, and manufacturers) has been working on revisions
over the last few years and the new versions will take effect on apparatus contracted for after January 1,
2016. In contrast to the 2009 standards updates, the document revisions this time around do not involve
dramatic impacts to apparatus design.
Here are some highlights of changes included in the 2016 revisions:
The use of ultra-high pressure in fire suppression has been promoted by the United States Air Force
over the past few years. Recognizing that this technique is gaining popularity in certain
applications, the committee defined pump discharge pressures up to 500 psi as “Normal Pressure”, between
500 and 1100 psi as “High Pressure”, and over 1100 psi as “Ultra High Pressure (UHP)”.
A new chapter has been created establishing the minimum requirements of a UHP pumping system.
New Apparatus Familiarization
It is common for new apparatus deliveries to include some degree of familiarization by the
apparatus manufacturer or the sales organization. This practice has now been included as a
requirement in the standard, with guidance as to what should be covered and the qualifications of
Safety Sign Standardization
Originally prompted by Chief Thomas Wood of Boca Raton, the FAMA technical committee
developed a series of standardized safety signs covering the common hazards of fire apparatus
operation. Chief Wood felt that firefighters were better served by having consistency in the safety
messages between rigs, even if they came from different manufacturers. Many of the FAMA signs
have been added as requirements in the standards, assuring that safety messages on future
apparatus will be consistent across all manufacturers’ products. The complete set of FAMA safety
signs can be viewed and downloaded from the resource tab at www.FAMA.org.
FAMA Safety Guide
Another FAMA initiative was the creation of the FAMA Fire Apparatus Safety Guide. This guide,
now in its second revision, covers safe practices common to all fire apparatus, and is a great
resource for safety conscious fire departments. A copy of the FAMA Fire Apparatus Safety Guide
will be required to accompany every new apparatus delivery. Fire departments may purchase
extra copies of the guide through the FAMA website at www.FAMA.org.
Seat Belt Stalk Length
The ease with which firefighters can buckle their seat belts continued to be a topic of discussion at
the committee meetings. One means of making it easier to buckle the belt is to increase the
height of the buckle stalk. A higher stalk is easier to reach, but a stalk that is too high reduces the
effectiveness of the belt in a crash. After studying the science the committee established a
maximum buckle stalk length that it felt will improve accessibility without compromising
Tiller Cab Integrity
In 2009 the standards were revised to mandate cab integrity criteria for large apparatus. The new
revisions extend the criteria to tractor-drawn apparatus cabs, providing a similar level of protection
for tiller drivers as is mandated for the occupants up front.
Stepping, Standing, and Walking Surfaces
The committee spent considerable time reviewing ways to improve the safety of firefighters
climbing and walking on the apparatus. In addition to a few minor adjustments to step
requirements, the main change is a requirement to more clearly designate walking surfaces on top
of the apparatus. Just as most factory floors include yellow lines to indicate where to walk to stay
clear of hazards; new apparatus will include lines of a contrasting color to identify designated walk
Pressure relieving caps were introduced about ten years ago, and they have gained in popularity.
These caps have grooves cut in the female threads that allow any trapped pressure to escape
before the cap is spun off. The committee recognized this feature as a relatively inexpensive way
to improve safety and felt these caps should be mandated as a standard for all discharge
Strength requirements for aerial platform handrails and gates have been established. This may
drive some noticeable design changes to the traditional platform apparatus basket. Requirements
for ladder belt attachments and attachment strength have also been added.
A section has been added to define minimum standards for the strength and performance of
powered masts used for elevating scene lights, antennas, or video cameras. All masts will need to
withstand a 50 mph wind without the aid of guy wires with a safety factor 125 percent.
A task force within the committee created a new chapter establishing criteria for crew carriers
used primarily to transport wildland firefighters. Mandated criteria include structural integrity of the
body as well as requirements for seating, doors, compartmentation, and miscellaneous equipment.
On-Board Pump and Roll Fire Fighting
Another major change to the wildland standard is the addition of an on-board pump and roll
firefighting position. This optional feature is intended to allow departments in the fine-fuels flatlands
regions to spray water from the back of the apparatus while being surrounded by a protective
structure. For more details see the FAMA forum article in the February 2015 edition of Fire
Apparatus Safety through the Years
The following table provides a snapshot of common safety features and NFPA requirements going back in
time. Determine the age of your in-service apparatus, and use the table to see the features or NFPA
requirements that have been added since your apparatus was built. This will help you determine whether
a new purchase or refurbishment should be considered.
Click here to view table.
The Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association (FAMA) is comprised of over 115 member companies that
design, manufacture and market automotive fire apparatus and related equipment in the United States
and Canada. Established in 1946, FAMA members have been committed to the development of
technologically advanced fire apparatus and fire suppression equipment, and have worked tirelessly to
improve the safety, performance and functionality of such equipment. This “White Paper” report was
prepared by FAMA, through the input of its member companies, for the benefit of all North American Fire
Service agencies that provide public fire protection to citizens in their communities. The report is organized
into sections that summarize specific improvements and added features related to aerial, body, chassis,
electrical, pump, and general. The report will be updated periodically as changes are incorporated into
the NFPA 1901 Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, NFPA 1906 Standards for Wildland Fire Apparatus
or when technological advances provide substantial improvements in the safety and functionality of fire