In order to stabilize a firetruck, engine, pumper, or aerial ladder Outriggers are deployed. These are the metal leg like devices that come from the underside of the front corners and just behind the cab. There are 4 types of outriggers (5 if you include one called X-Style):
The “H style” is probably one of the most common. This style of outrigger comes out horizontally and then down to the ground. It allows for a higher strength-to-weight ratio and can be operated independently allowing for more flexibility of placement. It will typically lift the truck about 14 inches.
The A-frame style comes out at downward angle. A major downfall to this kind of outrigger is that it might be blocked by a curb or other impediment.
The Underslung style is built into the torque box and comes out horizontally and then down to the ground. Like the A-Frame, this type also has the disadvantage of easily being blocked by a curb or other impediment.
The Gull Wing: Stores vertically and drops straight down to the ground.
A final type of outriggger is called the “X-Style” which is synonymous with the A-frame style. This style of outrigger can lift the truck up to 20 inches off the ground.
Outriggers help provide extra support by widening the support base of the vehicle. Placement of said vehicle is important and involves many factors. Special, prepositioned, spotlights are used to show where the outriggers will be deployed so the operator can check for obstructions. Laser beams have also been experimented with but were deemed hard to see. I do not know if any improvements have been made to that idea. Metal plate are placed under the outriggers so that the asphalt or concrete is not cracked under the weight of the truck.
It is important to fully extend the outriggers where ever possible. If you must “short jack” (in other words not fully deploy the outriggers on) an apparatus, it is important that you fully deploy the ones on the “fire” side or the side on which the aerial will be deployed. On the non-fire or “short-jacked” side deploy as far as possible. One note about not fully deploying the outriggers is that it greatly reduces the safety factor and should only be done where deemed absolutely necessary.
Join me on an A to Z Journey of firefighting tools throughout the month of April. I appreciate feedback. Please keep in mind that I am not (nor do I pretend to be) a firefighter or a member, either volunteer or paid, of the fire service. My purpose here is to pass on knowledge that I find in hopes to both bring awareness to the fire-service and to help those in the profession do their job safer and better.