Aerial Apparatus

Technical Fire Services is currently booking dates for fire department aerial apparatus inspections and testing.  As our client list has grown over the last several years we are already taking appointment dates for April to December season.  Make your reservation today and don’t be caught short at the end of the calendar year.

Don’t delay – call today or click on EMAIL US and schedule your department’s aerial test and inspection



Fire department aerial apparatus require periodic inspection and testing to remain safe and ready for emergency operations.  Apparatus manufacturer’s all require inspection and testing at least annually and occupational workplace regulations also require annual inspection and testing.  Agencies or jurisdictions which follow the NFPA 1911 standard will also have periodic inspection and testing requirements.

There are two distinctly different levels or types of aerial inspection and testing: the annual inspection and load test and the 5-year non-destructive testing.  Complete descriptions of both processes are detailed below and while the terms may appear similar the annual and 5-year protocols are distinctly different.  Often people confuse the annual load test with the non-destructive testing and are left outside of compliance with the apparatus regulations.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss your specific apparatus please feel free to contact us via telephone or email.  Our team is happy to share our knowledge with you in an effort to make your fireground a safer place to work.


When our team arrives at your station or the test location we will conduct a preliminary visual inspection of the apparatus and evaluate its apparent condition and determine if there are any conditions which may impact the safe execution of the inspection and testing.  After verifying that the apparatus and test location are suitable the apparatus will be setup for deployment.  From this point the entire inspection and testing process can take between 5 and 7 hours and the apparatus is generally not available for emergency service.  In the past situations have arose during the day that required the apparatus be made available and from the time of notification the apparatus can be returned to service in approximately 15 minutes.  Barring any such emergencies the inspection and testing protocol is as follows:

Perform cab controls and aerial operation interlock testing.

Perform 1-hour hydraulic system drift test and document results.

Perform chassis underside and engine compartment visual inspection.

Visually inspect the fixed breathing air system, if provided.

Visually inspect the outrigger system, jack pads, and plates

Visually inspect the pedestal control station

Perform functional testing of aerial ladder controls, safety stops, and verify gauge and indicator operation

Visually inspect aerial device condition, construction, and attachments

Visually inspect turntable, rotation, and elevation equipment

Perform horizontal load testing – aerial at 0-degrees and full extension off rear of apparatus

Perform vertical load testing – aerial at 75-degrees and full extension over rear of apparatus

Perform timed testing of aerial operation and movements

Perform timed testing of outrigger and jack system

Collect fluid sample package for laboratory analysis, if selected by the customer

Perform torque testing of accessible turntable and torque box fasteners



   A 5-year inspection and test includes all the items listed above.  While only done every 5-years the non-destructive testing does not waive the inspection and tests required and detailed above on an annual basis. 

Non-destructive testing using one of the three methods listed below will be used to test all accessible critical welds which support the aerial device and the torque box / outrigger system.

  Method #1 – Liquid Penetrant 

Liquid penetrant testing is used to defect flaws which are open to the surface on unpainted materials.  It is most useful on welded repairs and modifications prior to the application of primer and finish paint.  Paints and finishes, including clear coat and corrosion inhibitors, will render the test ineffective and therefore the application of this test method to fire apparatus is very limited.

Method #2 – Magnetic Particle

Magnetic particle testing can detect surface and near-surface flaws in ferrous metals.  It has limited ability to detect flaws under paint coatings and is the primary testing method used on welded torque box elements and the outrigger/jack system.  Since the testing process requires the development of a magnetic field around the test area this method cannot be used on aluminum aerials.  To provide for the best result and provide clear contrast of test medium the entire test area must be thoroughly degreased and wiped clean.  This increases the time necessary to perform the testing and also requires a thorough soap and water washing of the apparatus at the conclusion of the testing to remove all residual test particles.  Any areas which were degreased during the testing must also be lubricated with the proper grease to restore proper protection.

Method #3 – Ultrasonic

Ultrasound testing is used to detect flaws which are below the surface of the material and to provide precise thickness measurements of structural components.  This testing is not material    dependant and is used on ferrous metals as well as aluminum and non-metallic composite materials.  It is not adversely impacted by a fully bonded paint finish and requires only mild cleaning of the test area prior to measurement.