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Riding the Tailstep?

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  • Riding the Tailstep?

    Hey Guys and Girls,
    I was reading the article about a Mack CF crash and it said that a fireman was riding the tailstep. How many of you have ridden the tailstep and would you want to do it just once more...for the sake of tradition? I know it is quite unsafe.

    I do agree that that the Firefighters involved in the crash should have received some sort of finacial settlement for the accident, but I am only asking why they were riding the tailstep.
    Here is the article I am refering to: http://www.firehouse.com/news/2000/10/10_mack.html

    I am not here to argue whether or not riding the tailboard should be illegal or notJust curious if yo uhave done it or woul like to if you haven't. Thanks folks,

    "When the bell goes ding-ding, its time to get on the woo-woo."

    [This message has been edited by daysleeper47 (edited November 05, 2000).]

  • #2
    Whether legal or not, it all boils down to choice and money. Life is full of choices. If you choose to ride the tailboard(step), yet were told not to, or that it is illegal, then hey, it's your own fault when you fall off.
    The same for seatbelts.
    The same applies for one who smokes cigarettes.
    Don't think for a minute that they're concerned about your life.
    No, no, no! It cost some insurance company(s) somewhere lots of money, so that's why you're not supposed to do that stuff.


    • #3
      Tailstep...tailboard, same thing.

      And not so much ILLEGAL as really HIGH LIABILITY. Maybe there is OSHA regulations against it...but that's administrative rules and fines, not something you'll be hauled before a real judge for. NFPA are standards, not laws or regulations.

      After Pirsch was put out of business in a product liability lawsuit in the mid-80s from someone who slipped while holding a chrome hand-hold, the industry started tightening up their standards. They stopped building rear steps you could ride...and soon moved to fully enclosed cabs to minimize their liability.


      • #4
        I am amzed at anyone riding the tail today. Too many innovations over the years have made safety a high priority so why ride where you can fall. Although it was fun.....!

        "No matter what rank I have attained, I am, at heart, a Firefighter First"


        • #5
          Due to the fact that it was a CF, could they be reffering to the part between the jump seats and the pump panel as a tail step? I know some Dept's allow members to ride standing there.

          Neptune 33


          • #6
            Any fire chief that still allows this practice (backstep riding) should be taken out back behind the barn and thouroughly flogged.

            "Loyalty above all else, except honor."


            • #7
              As a matter of record, at least in Ohio, there are no "laws" that specifically prohibit riding on the outside of a "public safety" vehicle. However, riding the tailboard is a violation of recognized safety standards which is where the liability comes in. If a department permits this to happen, and someone is injured because of it, the department would be clearly liable should a civil action take place.

              Richard Nester
              Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.


              • #8
                I agree. I don't know of any "laws" being broken here, but I seriously doubt that any workmens compensation claim will be approved if there was a suitable place in the rear cab or anywhere else and it wasn't used.

                Our department has stopped the practice, and if all the seats are taken up, we pull out one of our suburbans and respond with the truck.

                Ed Brando


                • #9
                  When I first started in 1979, we still rode the backstep (as we called it). As a young Firefighter it was an exhilarating experience. Rolling up to a job was nice too, since you already knew what you had before you got there, since visibility was excellent. Now we ride in the cab belted in our seats. Not a lot of fun but much safer.


                  • #10
                    Riding the back step was still being done by departments as recently as five years ago.

                    From what I've read and been told most quit doing this long ago, as daysleeper mentions, but a few hung on until much later. The incident in question happened in 1995, that is probably why this seems like it should be old news. Take care and be safe.

                    Phil Clinard
                    Laurel VFD
                    Prince George's Co Sta 10
                    Laurel, MD


                    • #11
                      Well, I don't know if I would call it old news, but the only reason I brought it up is because the ensuing court case was just finished. I thank all of you who responded. You have answered my question.

                      "When the bell goes ding-ding, its time to get on the woo-woo."


                      • #12
                        I'm 27 years old, and back when I was a young'un.....anyways, when I started the fire service in 1991, the department I was on didn't have any engines with jump seats or crew cabs, it was tail all the way. I must say that it was a really great ride, right up until they started sanding the roads in the winter time. The sand just kinda swirls around the rear of the engine and right into the eyes. Ahhh, the good ol' days. Not to mention when the engineer has to jam on the brakes for some idiot who didn't see the big red woo woo coming, and you kiss the diamond plate. Man I loved that ride. Oh, oh, and then there's the times when it's raining, and the tail is really slippery............ Really though, as young as I am, I consider myself very lucky to have been able to ride on the tail, cause let's face it, when it comes to firefighting traditions, riding the tail is what got Americas attention, and immortalized the firefighter.
                        I know that this has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but hey, we're all allowed to wander sometimes......right? Hang on, it's gonna be a great ride.

                        Take care, stay safe, & stay low.



                        • #13
                          There is no law on the books in Pennsylvania that prohibits riding the tailboard. Just about any insurance carrier will tell you not to do it, and that's good advice. I don't know of any company in my area that allows crew members to ride the tailboard anymore, but it is still common practice in some places (actually...you sometimes see it during slow-speed parades even in my area, but only during the parades themselves...in that case, it's really no worse than having people standing alongside the ladder on an aerial, as long as they're not doing it outside of that context).


                          • #14
                            wouldn't you rather have to many firefighters to ride in the truck instead of to little firefighters to put out the fire.


                            • #15
                              I rode the tailboard just once in my career....NEVER AGAIN!!!

                              Firefighters: Today's heroes protecting our tomorrows....
                              Captain Gonzo


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