Performance Testing of Aerial Devices per NFPA 1911 chapter 22

American Test Center is accredited to ISO 17020 by A2LA for Performance Testing of Aerial Devices as specified in NFPA 1911, Chapter 22

Properly maintained aerial devices, through a test and inspection program, are essential to the safe and economical operation of a fire department. Firefighters depend on these units to perform structurally, mechanically, hydraulically and functionally as intended. An aerial device that fails could result in injury or death to a firefighter or to a person being rescued.

Aerial devices may have been designed initially with adequate safety factors. Accidents, overloads, and fatigue can cause problems to develop. A thorough, regularly scheduled inspection and test program can identify potential problems before they cause injuries or unplanned out of service.  Defects, when discovered early, are less expensive to repair than if they are left to develop into major problems. Substantial monetary savings can be gained by using written test reports to obtain competitive quotations for repairing, rebuilding, and remounting their aerial device.

American Test Center performs a thorough test and inspection of your aerial device from the top of the aerial down through the chassis frame assembly. A well-equipped two-person crew of certified non-destructive test technicians who are experienced on fire department aerial devices performs the work at your site. A staff of degreed engineers, Level III technicians and equipment specialists supports them.

The following information describes the American Test Center inspection services.


A.Visual Inspection; A complete inspection of:     

  1. Outriggers; Pads, structure, welds, bolts, hoses, fittings, cylinders, check valves, pins and retainers.
  2. Chassis; Truck frame, aerial sub-frame/mounting, suspension, and PTO.
  3. Pedestal; Mounting bolts/welds, pedestal structure, attachment welds/pins, hydraulic swivel joint, hydraulic components, swing drive gear box/mounting bolts, backlash between swing pinion/bullgear and electric collector ring/brushes.
  4. Rotation Bearing; Upper/lower bearing attachment weld/bolts and vertical movement of bearing. Torque checked on accessible bearing bolts.
  5. Turntable; Turntable structure, hydraulic components, lower control operation, extension winch/motor  mounting, spotlights and intercom.
  6. Lower Boom; Boom structure, welds, lower boom lift cylinders/attachment, hydraulic components/lines, leveling cables/rods, upper/extend cylinder/attachment, boom rest supports, tie down straps, boom extension roller assembly and wear pads.
  7. Elbow Area; Elbow structure, hydraulic hoses and leveling cables.
  8. Upper Boom Extension; Boom structure, welds, leveling cables/rods, wear pads and hydraulic lines/components.
  9. Platform; Mounting bracket/bolts, leveling system, platform exterior condition, platform control operation  and hydraulic lines/components.
  10. Ladder and Extension Sections; Base, Second, Third, Fourth and Fly; Inspect rails, rungs, lacing, hand rails for, structural welds, dents and gouges, extension roller assemblies, wear pads/babbitt slides, cables/chains, bed lock lubrication. Extension lock operation, pawls, springs and lubrication. Cylinder  shut-off safety valve operation and leakage. Pin joint condition.
  11. Fifth Wheel; Pivot pins, mounting bolts and lower mounting housing.
  12. Tiller; Steering gearbox/attachment, steering elements, signal to cab and suspension components.
  13. Waterway; Waterway components, attaching brackets, see optional pressure test.
  14. General; Load rating chart, electrical hazard placards and upper/lower control placards.

The visual inspection includes removal of inspection cover plates as necessary to do a thorough job.

A 5 year test includes all NDT testing as required by NFPA 1911, Chapter 22.

B. Magnetic Particle Inspection: All critical welds, plates and castings of items listed in Part A during the visual inspection, used on ferrous materials only. Magnetic particle is used to identify surface cracks.

C. Dye Penetrant Inspection: All critical welds, plates and castings made of ferrous or non-ferrous metals.  Dye penetrant is used to identify surface defects.

D. Ultrasound Inspection: All accessible pins including outriggers, pedestal, boom and platform. Ultrasound is a test method used to detect flaws in pins. The pins being tested must be accessible, have flat end surfaces and not have grease fittings. Use of ultrasound limits the number of pins which might otherwise have to be removed for inspection.

E. Hardness Tests: Aluminum (non-ferrous) aerial device beams checked for strength and heat exposure.


A. Functional Test: A functional and operational test is performed to check the operation of controls, bearings, pin bushings, cylinders, holding valves, ladder extension cables, platform leveling mechanisms, outriggers, waterways, etc. This test also finds worn swing bearings/gear boxes, worn pin/bushings and loose bolts critical to the operation of the aerial.

B. Operational Test on Aerial Ladders: A complete cycle of aerial ladder operation will be carried out. The ladder will also be fully elevated out of the bed, rotated 90 degrees and extended to full specified height. The tests will also demonstrate successful operation of all ladder controls.

C. Drift Test: Place the aerial device at full elevation, marking the cylinder piston on the second section in relation to the base section and allow the ladder to stand for one hour with engine off. Results shall not exceed the manufacturer’s specifications for allowable cylinder drift.

D. Operational Test on Elevating Platforms: The operation of the elevating platform shall include movement of the platform from ground to maximum elevation and extension as well as rotating platform 360 degrees to the left and to the right while the unit is at its maximum horizontal reach. Booms and telescoping elevating platforms will operate without any improper or unusual motion or sound. From the lower control station, the elevating platform will also be raised out of the bed, extended to full-specified height, and rotated through a 90-degree arc. Both tests will demonstrate successful operation of platform controls.


Load tests are performed on each aerial ladder and platform. The aerials are operated to determine they operate smoothly and without any undue vibration. Horizontal and maximum elevation tests are performed on aerial ladders using the manufacturers recommended rating at permissible operating ranges. Full operating range tests are performed on aerial platforms with the manufacturers specified rating to determine stability and acceptable operation under load.


The water system will be pressure tested by filling the system to the manufacturers rated working pressure and check for leaks including the turntable swivel. If equipped with a flow meter and/or water pressure gauge, each should be checked for accuracy. If equipped with a relief valve, it will be verified that it is operational at the manufacturers recommended pressure setting. Department must supply operator for these tests.


Chemical analysis of oil in engines, transmissions and hydraulic systems is also available. Determines type and amount of contamination, important for proper maintenance of equipment.


Test defects are listed on American Test Center test report forms and described in detail on a comment sheet. Defects are classified for degree of severity. After the test, American Test Center personnel will review the report with the department representative. A signed, dated copy of the test report listing the defects discussed is left with the department. Two copies are reviewed and signed by American Test Center’s professional engineers. One signed report is then mailed to the designated department representative. American Test Center retains a copy of the test report on file. Certificates are provided for aerials that pass the test. Units that need rework require verification or retest of completed work.


American Test Center schedules tests with each fire department to best meet their individual requirements throughout the year. American Test Center has crews located throughout the United States and performs the test at your station or garage. American Test Center encourages your department to have all the appropriate people available after the test to review the test results and to ask questions. American Test Center requests that equipment be properly cleaned prior to testing to assure a thorough test.

Click image to see our current scope of accreditation

Click image to see our current scope of accreditation