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Spotlight Product: Automatic Traction Chains

Fire departments don’t have the option when their pagers go off to wait until icy roads thaw out. They need to respond quickly and safely. Automatic traction (or snow) chains are an option that assists firefighters to get to their calls safely. This is an extremely valuable option, especially for departments located in the northern regions.

Here’s the concept behind the product: they are chains that can be deployed to run under the tires of a truck to allow them to stay put on icy roads. Moreover, there are many different manufacturers such as OnSpot, InstaChain, and Rudd, to name a few.

The good news is these chains are easy to use. With a simple push of a button, the fire truck’s automatic traction chains are activated. An electric switch mounted in the cab provides 12 volts to an air solenoid mounted on the vehicle’s frame rail. Compressed air to the solenoid is supplied from either the vehicle’s onboard air system or a 12-volt compressor kit. When the dashboard switch is activated, the solenoid opens. This allows compressed air to enter the air cylinder and lower the chainwheel so that it contacts the inside of the tire.

The friction between the tire and the rubber-covered chainwheel causes the chainwheel to rotate, creating enough centrifugal force to push out the chains. (The principle of the system is similar to a small generator driven by a bicycle tire to operate a headlight.)

The arm then forces the chains under the tires and makes contact with the wheels and the road surface. Note that the friction between the road surface and the tires increases immediately. Automatic snow chains minimize the risk of delays and shorten the all-important emergency response time for firefighters.

Having the right equipment on your fire truck is critical and will create a sense of security for your firefighters during their daily routine. It minimizes the risk of stress when you know that your equipment can help reduce emergency response time. Having automatic snow chains mounted on the vehicle also creates a more secure working environment and increased safety for others on the road.

It’s important to never to take this equipment for granted. You must conduct regular maintenance. There is a wide network of partners who offers maintenance and new assembly.

On Spot, for example, offers the following benefits and features:

  • Permanent installation; vehicle is always prepared
  • 12-volt air compressor kit available for vehicles without air brakes
  • Shift on the fly at up to 25 mph; operating speed 2 mph to 35 mph
  • More hauling force
  • Faster acceleration
  • Reduces stopping distance
  • Traction in forward or reverse
  • Increases vehicle safety and productivity
  • Eliminates wheel well damage from broken conventional chains
  • Designed for ice, packed snow, and up to 6 inches of snow
  • Few parts with little maintenance
  • Replaceable chainplates
  • DOT-approved in all 50 states
  • Approved for states without chain control areas

Onspot Automatic Tire Chains allow the operator to engage and disengage tire chains without stopping to enhance traction and reduce braking distance on snow and ice, in forward or reverse.

For more information or to discuss options for your new fire truck, please contact Metalfab Business Development Manager Ryan Stacey at or by phone at 1-800-561-0012 extension 24.