When designing your tractor drawn aerial it’s important to consider what size bumper will be attached to the tractor. Extended bumpers have become common with today’s fire apparatus; however an extended bumper on a tractor drawn aerial can have an adverse effect on maneuverability.
Aerial apparatus that are equipped with extended bumpers can serve many purposes depending on each department’s needs or requirements. These bumpers can provide equipment or tool storage such as hydraulic reels, a heavy-duty winch, extrication tools, ropes, etc. Of course one can’t forget one of the favorite pastimes for the national fire service which is to use these bumpers as a seat while hanging out at the fire station or on scene after a call.
The #1 strength of a tractor drawn aerial is maneuverability
With today’s modern tractor drawn aerial reaching sixty feet and beyond, adding a large bumper on the front of the tractor can inhibit the turning radius in tight situations because an extended bumper increases the overall length of the apparatus. The gallery below features examples of tractor drawn aerial front bumpers that do not limit overall maneuverability. (Click to enlarge)
I would advocate spending time designing your tractor with a short wheelbase if your department requires an extended bumper. Doing this will maintain the advantage of maneuverability. (Click to enlarge)
I have seen manufacturers provide a tractor wheelbase as small as 136 inches. The front bumpers (shown to the left) can impact the maneuverability if the tractor does not have a short wheel base.