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Garbage Truck Weight

St. Johns Co. Fire/Rescue attaching cables to car to pull it out from under truck. Photo By Phillip Whitley

This post started after a conversation at the State Fire School in Bowling Green, Ohio. One reason I love to travel and instruct is picking up information myself. One station in the Heavy Rescue is the heavy lifting station.  Talking with some of the others instructors during a break they mentioned how much the weight of a garbage truck can vary, especially during wet weather.  With that, I wanted to learn a little more myself.

The continual starting and stopping of more than 130,000 garbage and recycling trucks on the road in the United States is a recipe for passenger vehicles to crash into.  How many times have you raced around one on a two lane roadway? Now lets think about heavy truck weights. Long-haul trucks can weigh 80,000 pounds.  However, the shorter wheelbase of garbage and recycling trucks results lower legal weight around 51,000 pounds with an empty weight about 33,000 pounds.

Have you considered how the weather can affect a vehicle extrication? Consider this, often, garbage is set outside homes the night before garbage pickup day.  Now factor in some rain overnight or in the morning.  That water adds addition weight to the garbage. What is the weather like that day? How about  Was the garbage sitting outside in the rain all day and night adding to the weight?

Wet Weight?

The weight of wet garbage is an important consideration for rescuers if the truck needs to be lifted to extricate the patient. Weight of Trash by Material Type (tons per cubic yard) is listed below:

Here’s an interesting article about garbage trucks hauling loads from transfer stations to the landfill. In the article, Haulers Routinely Overloaded Waste Authority Trucks May Be 20,000 Pounds Over Federal Road Limits, it states “Daily transfer station reports show between 40 percent and 80 percent of the trucks in randomly selected weeks the past year have left for the landfill over the legal limit of 80,000 pounds.” Throughout the United States, rescuers need to consider the weather of the previous couple days if they are faced with lifting a garbage truck off another vehicle.

Mike Smith, Absolute Rescue's Editor in Chief, is a veteran of the fire/rescue service in Michigan, who also works in the automotive industry as a designer. Have an idea of suggestion for the site? Contact Mike here

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