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Truck Co. Positioning

There's more to being a Truck driver than just driving the truck.  Anybody can drive a Truck.  What makes a good Driver? The knowledge of your still district, safe but defensive driving to get to the scene quick and without incident, The ability to know where to place the Truck to utilize the main, and knowledge of your apparatus to know what it can and can not do.  You must go out pre plan and practice with the truck.  Get your hands on it and set up till it becomes second nature.    

Truck Company Positioning – Knowing Your District

In my previous article we touched on the importance of positioning the ladder truck. In this article we will explore more of the foundation for optimizing your position. One important key to any truck company is knowing your district. I cannot overstate the importance of this knowledge. Knowing your district gives you the keys to direction of travel, hydrants (you may ask why hydrant location is important, I will get to that shortly), overhead wires, type of structures by address, exposure potential and other apparatus. All of these items need to be considered in your positioning plan. Each one affects the ability to place the apparatus in the most advantageous location to accomplish your tasks.

The Keys to Your Response

Let’s break down the district knowledge keys. First you’re direction of travel. Knowing what direction you will be approaching the incident from tells you traffic patterns, ability to maneuver, other apparatus travel direction and the side of the structure you will have the best access.

Having this bit of knowledge sets the stage for good placement. If your knowledge tells you that two engine companies will arrive prior to you, and come from the opposite direction of your travel, it may be wise to let them know how you are entering to avoid being blocked out. They may very well expect you to come in from behind them and pull past the address. That two second radio message may save you hours of headaches.

Photo Courtesy: Baltimore City Fire Department

Photo Courtesy: Baltimore City Fire Department

Hydrants and the Engine Co

Hydrants, you ask why would I need to know about hydrants? Take it from experience, if you know the direction the engine is laying out from or to, you can make adjustments in how and in what order it is best to arrive. In my world we were an engine and truck house fortunately we had captains that understood the importance of equipment positioning.

So on structural assignments the truck led the way. This gave us prime position, allowing the engine to stop at the plug and await for a status if necessary and we got the door forced quicker for entry. The importance of knowing the hydrant location allow you to establish from where the supply line is laid if it is prior to your arrival.

You can then adjust your travel if possible. Taking a 29 ton ladder truck over a 4” charged supply line is not a wise move.


Overhead wire location is another obstacle the truck must contend. If you know that overheads run a certain side of the street, you can plan accordingly.

Also, if wires run across the street to the incident address side, be very careful about parking under those lines. Just recently my old company parked and before the operator could exit the truck the wires dropped on the vehicle. He sat in the cab waiting for the electric company to disconnect the line from the pole, rendering the truck useless.

Type of Structure by Address

Knowing the district and what type, size, and exposure potential also are extremely important tidbits for your positioning plan. Obviously, if the structure is a garden style apartment or multi-dwelling it affects the ladder use potential and placement.

If the structure address is commercial stand-alone it affects the selection of the position. Exposure and fire spread potential (guessing where the fire is going) affects where you want to place the truck. Each of these items are a piece of the puzzle in how to better your truck team. Until next time, stay low, be safe and keep learning!

(Cover Photo Courtesy: Montgomery Co Md Fire/Rescue)

About the Author
Michael is a retired 32 year firefighter with most of those years on the busiest career truck in Baltimore County. His resume runs deep in both the fire service and law enforcement fields. His specialties focus on tactical ventilation and firefighter rescue. Ask questions below or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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