The Up-Front on Bumper Extensions

Each community’s fire service needs impact new apparatus design specifications, and one part of the truck where innovations are possible is the front bumper.
For quite some time now, discharge, suction and siren options have been available as options on extensions as narrow as 6 inches, but today specifications that call for bumper extensions of 24 inches or more are not uncommon in the fire service. Keep these tips in mind when it comes to a bumper extension for your next specification.
First consider the truck’s operating environment. In established urban areas, streets and intersections can be narrower than those found in suburban areas and towns.  An increased extension could inhibit the truck’s maneuverability on the district’s roadways, so the angle of approach may be an important consideration. In districts with wider roadways, equipment and tool storage in an extended bumper improves capability without limiting maneuverability, so a specification may include a bumper that could be as deep as 30 inches. However, keep in mind that new apparatus with extended bumpers must still meet NFPA requirements for angle of approach, apparatus length, wall-to-wall and curb-to-curb turning radius, and weight distribution.
Next, consider the possibilities.
If you’ve got the available room, there are a number of creative ways to use the space while increasing firefighter safety.
Suctions and Discharges:  Trucks equipped with front bumper suctions and discharges enable operators to work the fire ground from a “safe area” in front of the cab and away from traffic running parallel to the truck’s parked position on narrower urban roadways.
When designing the front bumper discharge hose storage the Fire Department needs to determine the length of the hose that could range from 50’ to 200’.  The hose can be stored with flat load or rolled storage depending on FD’s storage requirements. Front bumper suction inlets can be provided with a chicksan swivel adapter above the front bumper gravel shield that would provide 180 degree rotation of the suction inlet or the inlet can be located in a hose storage well that would include a pre-connected hose. 
Rescue and Extraction Tools:  Firefighter safety is a key benefit of bumper rescue and extraction tool storage, too – stopping directly in front of or behind the incident and working from that “safe area” minimizes personnel exposure to traffic in busy, multiple-lane roadways. With pre-connected rescue tools stored in the front bumper this allows for rapid deployment on the scene of traffic incident. This along with proper positioning of the apparatus creates a safe working area to deploy the rescue tools quickly and efficiently.

Receivers and Winches:
Does the department require the storage for a fixed mounted winch or a receiver mount for a portable winch? The front bumper is an excellent location for mounting of these components. The bumper mounted winch is located between the chassis frame rails or the portable winch receiver can be located below the front bumper. The winch receiver point can also serve as rope tie-off point. 

(Photo at left)
Two (2) 150’ rolled pre-connected hose storage well and front bumper suction inlet with hose storage.

Lastly, be practical
Sometimes positioning an item in the bumper seems like a good idea, but causes headaches down the road. For example, some departments have requested the front bumper discharge to terminate inside the hose storage well.  However, when the hose line is charged at low operating pressures, the hose can kink, further decreasing the pressure. Locating a booster reel inside the front bumper may seem like a great alternative to placement in an already-crowded dunnage area, but this may significantly decrease the angle of approach if its compartment must be located low enough for it to fit.  Locating the reel too high in the bumper may cause the reel to interfere with the cab's ability to tilt forward fully, as intended for maintenance and scheduled mechanical service. 
Work closely with your sales representative on the options that are important to you. They’ll contact the factory’s engineering division to ensure that your bumper storage options will work for both the immediate need and the long term ergonomics, safety and serviceability.

As a leading manufacturer of first responder vehicles, KME engineers and custom manufactures a full range of specialty trucks for federal, industrial, commercial, aviation and municipal markets. Additional information on KME can be found at or by emailing to

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