Mike Wilbur


Check the dates on all of your departments Tires. Why? Last July Three firefighters were killed, two firefighters were seriously injured in two separate accidents one in Kansas and the other in Nevada.  More recently a tanker/ tender in the state of Maryland rollover with two firefighters hurt (Photo #1).

In all three accidents the cause was listed as tire failure.
Checking the date on your tires: You must find the raised letters on the tire that depict DOT.  However the label appears on only one side of tire.  So if the tires are mounted as dual wheels and are mounted towards each other, it may be more difficult to find. The date appears on tires as pictured in (Photo #2) in the last oval of four numbers.  In a quirk unique to the tire industry the first two numbers in the last oval represent the week that the tire was manufactured the second pair of numbers represent the year. With the tire pictured it was manufactured in the 42 week of 2008.

NFPA 1911 Standard for the Inspection, Maintenance, Testing, and Retirement of In-Service Emergency Vehicles – 2017


Chapter 8 Inspection and Maintenance of the Chassis, Driving and Crew Compartment, and Body

8.1 General. All components and systems commonly found on or in the chassis, driving compartment, crew compartment, and body shall be inspected and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and this chapter.

8.3.6* Tires shall be replaced at least every 7 years or more frequently when the tread wear exceeds state or federal standards as determined by measuring with a tread depth gauge. [See 6.3.1(4).]


Chapter 16 Inspection and Maintenance of Trailers

16.1 General.  Trailers shall be inspected and maintained in accordance with this chapter.

16.2.9* Tires shall be replaced at least every 7 years or more frequently when the tread wear exceeds federal, state, or provincial standards as determined by measuring with a tread depth gauge. [See 6.3.1(4).]


Annex A

A.8.3.6 Tire age can be determined by checking the DOT code on the sidewall of each tire. The code begins with “DOT” and ends with a 3-digit (through 1999) or 4-digit (2000 and beyond) date code. The first 2 digits of the date code are the week of the year the tire was manufactured, and the last 1 or 2 digits indicate the year. For example, “DOT GJ HU234 319” was manufactured in week 31 of 1999. “DOT BT FR87 2501” was manufactured in week 25 of 2001. The code may be on the inside or outside sidewall


Annex D

D.4 Proper Maintenance of Fire Apparatus.

(3) Tires and suspension are in serviceable condition, and tires are not more than 7 years old.

The tire pictured above needs to be replaced immediately as it is older than 7 years.  It makes NO Difference if the tire has a like new tread or there are not many miles on the tire.  The tire could have dry rot or cracks out of view and be prone to failure.

Any tires found with only three numbers in the last oval were manufactured before 2000 when the tire standard changed from the three number to the four number designation and needs to be replaced immediately.


In the last year Emergency Vehicle Response found that one out of three fire apparatus inspected during Fleet Evaluations had tires that needed to be taken out of service based on the standard.

Finally when you replace the tires send a driver operator that is engaged, has read and understood this Safety Alert. Three items need to be accomplished:

  1. Make sure that the new tires you are purchasing are actually new and have not be laying around in a warehouse for two or three years. Remember it does not matter when you bought the tires in the eyes of the standard and a court of law but rather what the date of manufacturer is that is stamped on the tire.
  2. Have the tires mounted so that the date of manufacturer is easily disenable and can be identified through a visual inspection.
  1. Replace the tire with the exact same tire size, weight and speed rating that was originally supplied on the apparatus to match the axle and chassis Gross Weight Vehicle Ratings.

Tire Safety Alert DOWNLOAD

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