ASK ERNIE – “The Maintenance Apparatus Expert”

— Ernie questions answered by Anthony D. (Tony) Bulygo.

What exactly does rollover protection on my apparatus entail?

Rollover protection integrates the Stability Control system with that of personnel protection items like seat belt pre-tensioning, frontal air bags, side air bags, knee air bags, etc. Activation of the rollover protection system is initiated when a rollover is anticipated by the “Stability Control” system. The Stability Control system utilizes at least, sensors for steering wheel position, vehicle yaw, lateral accelerometer and individual wheel brake controls. NFPA does not regulate the equipping of fire apparatus with stability control or rollover protection at the current 1901, 2016 edition


What is the speed requirement for new apparatus?

Per NFPA 1901, 2016 edition: 4.15.2: The maximum top speed of fire apparatus with a GVWR over 26,000 pounds shall not exceed either 68 mph or the manufacturer’s maximum fire service speed rating for the (any and all) tires installed on the apparatus, whichever is lower. AND 4.15.3 If the combined water tank and foam tank capacities on the fire apparatus exceed 1250 gallons, or the GVWR of the vehicle exceeds 50,000 pounds, the top speed of the apparatus shall not exceed 60 m.p.h. or the manufacturer’s maximum fire service speed rating for the (any and all) tires installed on the apparatus, whichever is lower.

How can I begin a good maintenance program?

A good basic start is to go to the back of the previously mentioned NFPA 1911 and look for “Quarterly/Annual Mobile Fire Apparatus Inspection Report,” page 83-89. J. J. Keller and Associates has been providing the trucking industry the best and most comprehensive documents since 1953. For the best and most comprehensive manual on vehicle maintenance and a PM program, go online to: Once in possession of this document, the one-year update service is not required

What is a good rule of thumb when estimating a budget for vehicle maintenance and repair?

Start with the past three years of vehicle maintenance repair costs. Look at the annual cost increases as an indicator of annual inflations costs. This is only a small part of a full evaluation and projections for need for replacements and/or upgrades to apparatus..

What are the pros for stainless steel pumps?

Both bronze and stainless steel high volume/pressure fire pumps are not common in our industry. Both are available from major pump manufacturers, usually for specialized pumping operations like through-the-pump foam systems and specialized commodity pumping. I foresee more stainless steel pump bodies in the future due to the fact that the cast iron or aluminum pumps are the final component in the pumping system affected by galvanic action/electrolysis. Tanks, plumbing, and valves are now made of materials that are much less susceptible to galvanic action, leaving the cast iron pump vulnerable to galvanic destruction. A sacrificial anode in existing pumps is essential today. A stainless steel pump would greatly increase the life of a fire pump.

You did not ask for the cons for the stainless steel pumps. The biggest “con” is the excessively high cost of these specialized pumps.

Is it good or bad to operate my aerial daily for maintenance?

Did you actually mean to question the daily operation of the aerial device to confirm its functionality? NFPA 1911 indicates that the daily aerial operations test is to include:

  • Operation of the aerial hydraulics
  • Check the aerial stabilizer operation
  • Check the aerial operation
  • Check the aerial hydraulic fluid level
  • Visually inspect the aerial structure

Uncle Ernie believes this is essential for staffed fire stations. If it is an unstaffed/volunteer station, it is mandatory to perform the same operations weekly.

Have A Question About An Issue On Your Truck?

“Ask Ernie” The Expert

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