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Tailboard Riding And Today's Firefighting

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  • Tailboard Riding And Today's Firefighting

    Hey All,

    I am writing a paper for my department about fire apparatus safety history and really want to cover "Tailboard Riding" and current state of cab seating. I have looked online and haven't really been able to find much information.

    I would like some information on the transformation from the use of tailboard riding positions to rear facing jump seat positions to enclosed cab positions. A brief timeline of these changes would also be very helpful!

    Thank you in advance!

  • #2
    Timeline-1991, when all apparatus manufactures after 1991 had to have enclosed cab's.

    And on the why/what's the point of enclosed cabs...there is no point, because as long as guys don't buckle up, it doesn't matter. The same number of FF's are getting hurt/killed in enclosed cab as there were with riding tailboard.

    I am by no means a safety sally, but a little common sense would go a long way.
    A Fire Chief has ONLY 1 JOB and that's to take care of his fireman. EVERYTHING else falls under this.


    • #3
      From a personal perspective, I rode tailboards from when i joined the service in 1979 up until about 1983 or so. At that point, we stopped, and we all rode in cabs with covered, but open in the rear mother-in-law seats.

      I also rode in an open cab until about 1998.

      My first fully-enclosed cab was not until 1999. When I left that department in 2002 we still had 2 open-rear cabs.

      Current department has had commercial cabs or fully enclosed cabs since 2001.
      Last edited by LaFireEducator; 12-06-2010, 09:33 PM.
      Train to fight the fires you fight.


      • #4
        Ha, I was still riding a 1976 LaFrance with the open rear cab and a 1983 Seagraves open rear cab in 2001-2003 or 2004. I found that bunker gear was a firefighter's best friend in the winter time on those beasts. Especially if it was raining.


        • #5
          Google "Joe Tynan Peter Pirsch"

          Then read the ROP/ROCs from the NFPA 1901 standard at nfpa.org going back 20 years or so.
          "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
          The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.


          • #6
            Ick, we still have 2 engines and 2 aerials that are rear facing open cabs. All will be replaced in 2012. Even worse, we got rid of our last full open cab in 2005.

            Not sure when the tail board riding stopped, but I've heard the stories from the old timers.

            I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.

            Originally posted by EastKyFF
            "Firemens gets antsies. Theys wants to goes to fires. Sometimeses they haves to waits."


            • #7
              Hell I rode the tail board last night.

              Now before some of you have a fit, take into account that it was a commercial cab engine and the fact that it was a 1/2 mile long uphill driveway. Oh and I only rode the tail board from the state road up to the residence.
              Stay Safe

              “Guys if you get hurt, we’ll help you. If you get sick we’ll treat you. If you want to bitch and moan, then all I can tell you is to flick the sand out of your slit, suck it up or get the hell out!”
              - Capt. Marc Cox CFD

              Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
              -WINSTON CHURCHILL


              • #8



                When I first started out on my volly FD we had commercial cab, OLD, pumpers and unless you wanted to only take 3 guys on the rig you rode tailboard. It was not unusual to see 2 - 4 guys riding back there.

                I admit freely that I loved it, when the sun was shining and it was 55 degrees and up. It SUCKED when it was raining, snowing, or frigidly cold. It was exciting, fun, and incredibly DANGEROUS. If it hadn't been for a couple of Brother firefighters hanging on to me one night I might not be here to talk about this now. Those stupid belts were nothing more than a tether to make sure if the rig crashed you got beat to death being tossed around or dragged. I NEVER used them.

                We began to tansition in the mid to late 80's when we bought our first custom cab. Actually, even before that we stopped having people ride the tailboard and respond in additional apparatus or POV's. It is far safer riding inside the cab AND I am in total agreement that you increase that safety margin exponetially by WEARING your seat belt.

                I miss it every once in a while but wouldn't go back to it ever. Just too damn dangerous.

                During the transition period I was at the SWNIFRA school in Monroe Wisconsin and there was a pumper there built on a commerciaol chassis that had a 2 door cab and jump seats built onto the rear step. It was the damndest thing. I wish i had taken a picture of it. I never saw another like it.
                Crazy, but that's how it goes
                Millions of people living as foes
                Maybe it's not too late
                To learn how to love, and forget how to hate


                • #9
                  1995 we replaced our Mack CF and that is when back step riding ended for us.
                  "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by FIREMECH1 View Post
                    Ick, we still have 2 engines and 2 aerials that are rear facing open cabs.
                    FWIW, if they're what's commonly known as "3/4 cabs" with a hardtop roof over the rear passengers, they're still considered "enclosed cabs." I don't know if anyone still builds them, the norm is now "fully enclosed cabs."
                    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
                    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.


                    • #11
                      Unless your were the Officer or Driver, this is where you rode on the apparatus, until the purchase of semi closed style cabs in the early 1960's . Even then we still rode the rear step if the weather was good.
                      Last edited by CaptOldTimer; 07-08-2011, 01:53 PM.
                      Stay Safe and Well Out There....

                      Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers


                      • #12
                        Is that a Navy Fog Nozzle on the right side preconnect?
                        Train to fight the fires you fight.


                        • #13
                          Never mind the back step - I've seen countless pictures of apparatus responding with FF's hanging just about anywhere there as a place to stand and hang on...

                          Some Brit engines carried their personnel seated with their backs to the ladder (those wheeled contraptions).

                          And we can't forget the Seagrave "Safety Sedans," which included a walkway through the hose bed to the crew seats, which were about where we find them now.
                          Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

                          Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LaFireEducator View Post
                            Is that a Navy Fog Nozzle on the right side preconnect?
                            Yes it is and no that isn't a pre-connect. Its the high rise lines or Hotel Roll as it was called then. The booster was the only preconnect.

                            In the left side was a double 1-1/2" with a gated wye appliance.

                            Apparatus didn't have them back then. Thats a 1948 Mack L model.

                            Hose bed had 1500 to 2000 feet of 2-1/2" hose in a split load.

                            Also all Truck Companies didn't have but a two seat cab and the tiller. The other members rode the trailer running boards!
                            Stay Safe and Well Out There....

                            Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers


                            • #15
                              Detroit ran the Seagrave Safety Sedan from the 1930s through the 70s. All the engines were Seagraves with the exception of one of the last ones, an FWD. Funny, they replaced them with Macks and Lafrances with 3/4 cabs, putting the men back out in the rain.

                              Last pic shows the rig from the back, you can see the crew walkway. They sat on a bench seat behind the driver and officer. the major handicap of the rigs was the lack of a booster tank. DFD policies are still reflected by that influence, as they still spec ladders with booster tanks/reels and engine companies still reverse lay on every call.

                              One of the rigs was recently found and refurbished by the Detroit Fireman's Fund, for use as a hearse for LODDs.
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