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Deck Monitors

From Basic to State of the Art 

The use of Fixed Deck Monitors dates back to the beginnings of the earliest horse drawn fire engines. Today’s modern fixed deck monitors take several forms and offer several options not available just a few generations ago.

The earliest monitors consisted of a split waterway design. The original monitors had limited movement. This progressed to monitors with 360° horizontal and varying degrees of vertical control.

Today’s monitors tend toward single waterway Deck Monitors with flows up to 2000 GPM with 360° horizontal and 150° or more vertical travel. Most manufactures offer anodized aluminum or brass monitors depending on the application specified.

One hybrid of the fixed monitor consists of a liftoff portion of a portable monitor in conjunction with a fixed flange. The ground base for the portable monitor can be safely stowed in a compartment until required, whereas the liftoff portion remains securely fastened on the deck of the fire truck ready to be used as a fixed monitor. Other developments in recent years have seen the introduction of extension pipes to extend the height of the deck monitor enabling it to clear any obstacle on the deck of the vehicle. Today this feature can be accomplished several ways including electrical operation.

Remote Controlled Deck Monitors

Early versions had electric motors installed in place of the gear mechanism. The flow rates of these monitors were similar to manual fixed monitors. Today’s Remote Controlled Deck Monitors offer a wide variety of options and can flow over 2000 GPM. Vertical and horizontal controls have been joined by features such as stow and deploy, automatic elevating capabilities, obstacle avoidance programming, limited oscillation and a wide variety of control packages.

Portable Monitors

As long as fixed deck monitors have been in the fire service, firefighters have looked for ways to get their vehicle as close to the incident as possible. This often led to safety concerns for both the vehicle and the firefighter.

Original portable monitors used up to 4 inlets and were made of brass. Their weight and number of hoses made them heavy, bulky and difficult to set up and therefore, seldom used.

Later models gave way to today’s newer lightweight portable monitors made from anodized aluminum. These improved designs led to greater flow and reach and come in two basic configurations; Dual Inlet Monitors and Single Inlet Monitors. Most manufacturers offer a variety of inlet and outlet thread types to accommodate varying requirements with flows up to 1250 GPM. Some of today’s portable monitors can be used as both a portable and fixed deck monitor on firefighting vehicles. The upper waterway (or liftoff portion) of the monitor is secured to the ground base by a locking mechanism. The liftoff can also be attached to the ground base for portable applications. While in the deck mode the monitor is operated as a fixed deck monitor. Ideally a portable monitor should have 180° of horizontal travel and built-in horizontal safety stops for added safety. For the vertical travel, a safety stop set at 35° will prevent the firefighter from lowering the elevation of the stream below a safe angle which could cause severe reaction forces making the monitor unstable. The monitor’s portable ground base should also include ground spikes on each leg for added stability. A safety chain and hook is also recommended to anchor the monitor for additional stability.

In conclusion, today’s fire service has numerous options to choose from covering a wide range of specifications and a variety of price levels that need to be factored into any purchasing decision. 

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