FAMA FORUM BY PAUL BOSTROM
The Leader of the Pack
Thank you for making Husky® your #1 choice for
Portable Water Tanks As a result, Husky is in the
process of building a new state-of-the-art
manufacturing facility. We plan to move in around
the same time as FDIC this year; we will miss
seeing you all! We look forward to seeing you all in
2015! Husky will be announcing new products and
exciting news in 2014! Visit us at our website
Folding Frame Tanks | Self-Supporting Tanks
Salvage Covers | Decon Showers | Cargo Netting
918-534-0002 | 800-260-9950 | HuskyPortable.com
Easy Lift Handles (Patent Pending Published 6/10/2010)
In 2006, members of the International Association of Fire
Chiefs (IAFC) approached the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’
Association (FAMA) to discuss the need for seat and seat
belt fit and comfort improvement within fire apparatus.
FAMA responded immediately by organizing a measurement survey of more than 800
firefighters to determine their average size,
weight, and shape. This survey has now been
followed up with a new study by the National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
(NIOSH). One common thread in both studies
is that firefighters have grown in size, and the
bulk of their gear has grown as well.
40 Pounds in a 10-Pound Bag
Although firefighters have grown,
the apparatus cab has stayed the same.
Commercial cab size is dictated by the high-
volume needs of the trucking industry and
is restricted in width by highway regula-
tions and in height by bridge clearance. In
addition, changes in engine emission regu-
lations by the United States Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) have caused
engine tunnels to grow, reducing the space
left for cab occupants.
Picking Your Apparatus
As airline travelers know all too well, a
human body is able to fit in a compact seating space. Whether an individual in the
seat is comfortable in that space is another question. If the majority of the firefighters in your department are average size and
the required amount of gear is moderate,
you may not need to consider seating as a
primary factor when selecting apparatus.
If firefighter sizes vary in your department
or you require personnel to carry more
gear as part of or attached to their turnout
gear, you may want to think carefully about
Most custom cabs will have a tight fit for
the driver and officer because of the space
occupied by the engine and cooling package. This condition is caused by the need to
get cooling air to the radiator. If this situation is unacceptable, you will have to consider a custom cab that moves the engine
rearward and uses a less conventional means to cool it. Other options to consider for increased driver and officer space
include raising the seat riser and notching the doghouse in your custom cab. The
crew area of a custom cab has much more
room to work with. If seating comfort is
a priority, consider three-across seating
rather than the more traditional four-across configuration.
Although conventional commercial cabs
are not encumbered with a large engine
tunnel, they are narrower than a custom
cab. This means that although the driver
may have a bit more hip room, rear occupants might have less room if you are trying
to fit more than two in the crew cab.
Picking Your Seat
Once you have a cab configuration identified, you can turn to the seats themselves.
Fire apparatus seating has become
more complex as suppliers strive to provide
enhanced comfort, safety, and accessibility and accommodate the increase in equipment worn in transit by today’s firefighters.
Fire departments want driver and officer
seat adjustability, including fore and aft,
height, back recline, and tilt, as well as crew
seats with space-saving flip-up cushions.
Driver seats that adjust to fit all size
occupants provide added flexibility, and
shock-absorbing air suspension seats
enhance passenger comfort. Another important industry safety trend is seat-mounted
airbag integration. Seats are available with
an air bag mounted inside and a deployment corridor incorporated next to the seat
for reliable air bag positioning relative to the
occupant. Of course, durability of materials is important, given the wear and tear the
seats are subject to.
When it comes to seat belts, it is desirable to have an integral three-point seat belt
system mounted within the seat to provide
easy access to the seat belt and provide sufficient usable belt length.
Finally, in-cab storage is critical.
Self-contained breathing apparatus
(SCBA) brackets that automatically lock
when an SCBA is pushed in are newer features that ensure safe SCBA storage. A
release handle built into the front of the
seat cushion makes this an easy-to-use
option when seconds matter.
Help for In-Service Apparatus
For existing seating in apparatus,
improvements in seat belt systems and
incorporation of mechanical SCBA brackets
are two areas that can easily be appraised
in the field and upgraded to optimize func-
tionality. First, we all know wearing a seat
belt in a passenger car is essential for occupant safety. It’s no different when riding
in a heavy truck such as a fire apparatus.
Seat belt use should be incorporated into
the department’s standard operating procedures. Check seat belts for sufficient
usable belt length, nicks or wear, and sufficient retraction of the webbing. Consider
replacing the seat belt if you notice any of
Incorporating mechanical SCBA brackets is another way to significantly improve
efficiency and operation. Correct storage of
SCBA in the cab includes a holding device
that clamps the SCBA into the seat and
withstands a force during travel of up to 9
Gs. Today you can choose from several self-locking mechanical brackets that eliminate
straps and pull cords.
FAMA has strived to guide improvements in areas such as safety and operating
performance within today’s fire apparatus. Analyzing the size of the clothed and
unclothed firefighter population has shed
light on the future design requirements
such as steps, handles, and seating, to name
a few. As FAMA and other organizations
conduct additional surveys, new solutions
will continue to be available, providing the
best ideas for continuous improvement in
PAUL BOSTROM is vice president
of sales and marketing at H.O. Bostrom
Company. He has been involved with seating
and occupant safety for the global fire market
for more than 20 years. He currently serves
on FAMA’s chassis and aircraft rescue and
firefighting (ARFF) subcommittees and National
Fire Protection Association (NFPA) safety
committees. He has a bachelor of science
degree in mechanical engineering, a masters
degree in business administration, and a
professional engineer’s license.
If the majority of firefighters in your
department are average size and the
required amount of gear is moderate, you
may not need to consider seating as a
primary factor when selecting apparatus.