OK FOLKS. I AM NEW TO THIS WEBSITE.

I HAVE A QUESTION FOR THE GROUP.

CUSTOM CAB OR CONVENTIONAL CAB FIRE ENGINE FOR A RURAL DEPT AND WHY???????

 

BACKGROUND

 I HAVE 14 YEARS OF FIREFIGHTING EXPERIENCE IN MY CURRENT DEPT. I HAVE HELD EVERY RANK IN THAT TIME FRAME AND A FEW MONTHS AGO I WAS ELECTED AS FIRE CHIEF. I RUN A SMALL RURAL DEPT WITH ABOUT 15 SQUARE MILES. POPULATION 1700. WE HAVE A YEARLY BUDGET OF ABOUT $130,000  WE HAVE 27 MEMBERS CURRENTLY WITH ONLY ABOUT 7-8 BEING ACTIVE AND DEPENDABLE. WE RUN ABOUT 240 CALLS FOR SERVICE YEARLY WITH ABOUT 75 PERCENT BEING MEDICAL FIRST RESPONDER IN NATURE. WE OPERATE 8 PIECES OF APPARATUS.  WE HAVE NO HYDRANTS ONLY PONDS FOR WATER SUPPLY.

 

1998 FREIGHTLINER ENGINE 1250 PUMP 1250 TANK (CONVENTIONAL 2 DOOR CAB)

1995 FREIGHTLINER TANKER/TENDER  1250 PUMP 1250 TANK (CONVENTIONAL 2 DOOR CAB)

2009 KENWORTH 3000 GAL. TANKER/TENDER  (2 DOOR CAB)

1972 FORD CAB OVER  1000 GAL. TANKER/TENDER (2 DOOR CAB)

2002 FORD F-450 BRUSH TRUCK 300 TANK (2 DOOR CAB)

2000 FORD F-800 SERVICE/EQUIPMENT TRUCK (2 DOOR CAB OLD BEER DELIVERY TRUCK)

2012 FORD F-550 RESCUE/MEDICAL  UNIT (CREW CAB 4 DOOR PICKUP RESCUE BODY)

2010 FORD F-450 CHIEFS VEHICLE/COMMAND UNIT (4 DOOR PICKUP WITH CAMPER SHELL)

 

WE ARE LOOKING AT BUYING A NEW FIRE ENGINE TO REPLACE THE OLD 1972 MODEL TRUCK.

WE ARE GOING TO SHUFFLE SOME TRUCKS AROUND TO MAKE THIS NEW TRUCK OUR PRIMARY ENGINE COMPANY TRUCK.

THE PRIOR CHIEF (MY CURRENT DEPUTY CHIEF) AND MOST OF MY BOARD THINK WE SHOULD BUY ANOTHER 2 DOOR CONVENTIONAL CAB TRUCK. I THINK WE SHOULD STRONGLY CONSIDER A CUSTOM CAB (5 MAN CAB) FIRE TRUCK. 

QUESTION

WHICH TRUCK WOULD YOU GUYS PICK IF YOU WERE RUNNING MY DEPT. AND WHY.

 

MY REASONS FOR WANTING A CUSTOM CAB TRUCK:

WE WILL PROBABLY BE BUYING A $450,000 TRUCK. WE WILL FINANCE FOR AS LONG AS 15-20 YEARS. IN 5 YEARS I STRONGLY BELIEVE VOLUNTEERS WILL BE REPLACED WITH AT LEAST A FULL PAID ENGINE COMPANY IN MY DEPARTMENT. A FULL CREW CANNOT FIT INTO A 3 PERSON CAB. IN 15 YEARS I DONT SEE VOLUNTEERS AT ALL IN MY DEPARTMENT. I SEE A FULL PAID DEPT. (VOLUNTEERS ARE BECOMING VERY HARD TO COME BY)

5 MAN CAB WILL ALLOW US TO RESPOND WITH A FULL ATTACK CREW VERSUS THE 3 PEOPLE WE CURRENTLY RESPOND WITH. THIS WILL GREATLY IMPROVE FIREFIGHTER SAFETY AS WELL AS SAFETY OF VICTIMS TRAPPED IN A FIRE. WITH A 3 MAN TRUCK COMPANY ONE MUST STAY WITH TRUCK AND I DONT LIKE SENDING ONLY 2 INTERIOR.

CUSTOM TRUCKS NORMALLY HAVE MORE STORAGE COMPARTMENTS THAT WE DESPERETLY NEED.

CUSTOM CAB TRUCKS WILL ALLOW OUR CREW TO BE FULLY DRESSED OUT IN GEAR WHEN THEY ARRIVE ON SCENE THEREFORE MAKING A QUICKER FIRE ATTACK AND POTENTIALLY SAVING MORE LIVES AND PROPERTY.

ALL OTHER SURROUNDING DEPTS ARE UPGRADING TO CUSTOM CAB TRUCKS. I AM NOT ONE TO WANT ONE JUST BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE HAS ONE HOWEVER MY MEMBERS ARE WANTING IT. IF I DONT HAVE IT MY MEMBERS WILL GO TO ANOTHER SURROUNDING DEPT THAT HAS IT. THIS TRUCK COULD ACTUALLY BOOST THE MORALE OF MY MEMBERS AND GET SOME ACTIVE AGAIN. EVERYONE WILL WANT TO DRIVE THE 5 MAN CAB.

 

THERE REASONS FOR NOT WANTING A CUSTOM CAB

PRICE - PRICE - PRICE  WE CAN GET A CONVENTIONAL TRUCK FOR AROUND $350,000 WHICH IS ABOUT $100,000 CHEAPER THAN A IDENTICALLY EQUIPPED CUSTOM CAB.

WE ARE CURRENTLY HAVING TROUBLE GETTING 3 PEOPLE TO FILL UP THE REGULAR CAB TRUCK. HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET 5-8 PEOPLE TO FILL THIS NEW CUSTOM CAB TRUCK. ( I AGAIN THINK THAT THEY ARE NOT LOOKING TO THE FUTURE. WE WILL NOT ALWAYS HAVE A MANPOWER SHORTAGE)

THEY HAVE NO OTHER REASONS WHY WE SOULD NOT BUY A CUSTOM CAB, BUT WITH A $100,000 PRICE DIFFRENCE THEY MAKE A PRETTY GOOD ARGUMENT.

 

 

WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK. SHOULD I GO WITH ANOTHER 2 DOOR CAB OR UPGRADE TO A 5 MAN CAB. ANY OTHER GOOD SUPPORTING REASONS WHY WE SHOULD OR SHOULDNT GET A 5 MAN CAB.  

 

THANKS IN ADVANCE,

                                    CHAD

 

 

 

 

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How bout a crew cab commercial chassis? We just put a 3 man commercial cab engine in our station for just under 200k the crew cab would have run us about 60k more. Only reason we didn't go with it was because it wouldn't fit in our station. Just some food for thought.

The big difference between the two chassis options are the performance characteristics. The custom will have a much shorter wheel base and have a turning radius better than a Ford extended cab pick up. This translates into getting places easier than a commercial. There are many more power (bigger engines and transmission) options and also braking and safety options. This translates into safer and more capable. But they are more expensive to buy and also maintain. Stay safe.

  I would go with custom cab. You already have a 2 man cab so why not expand your options for the future.  Went through a similar experience 8 years ago with my dept.  We always had 2 man engines and the general feeling was with a volunteer dept. you never needed anything more however I brought up the problem with mutual aid.  I don't know how many times you run mutual aid but with us two trucks always had to go to bring the manpower.  Custom cab solved that problem!  We did look into the commercial chassis but your less one firefighter with 5 man cab vs. custom and 6 but the biggest reason is turning radius. 

  Change in the fire service is always hard to do.

   

I think you have left out some significant information. Your numbers/stats don't add up at all if your suggesting career staff and using that as justification for a custom cab.

 

Based on what you have described a 4 door commercial would provide you an excellent platform to operate from and be fiscally responsible given the average number of 60 fire responses you attend. The difference in cost can be used for equipment that can help a minimally staffed crew operate more efficient.

 

 

Chad, I live in a small rural town myself. When we replace our old pumper the village wanted us to go with a 2 door cab. But we convinced them that a 5 man cab would be a much better way to go. We run mostly mutual aid calls. So with the five man cab we can respond with a full crew either for our calls or mutual aid. The other thing to look at is sooner or later the states will start doing away with guys responding to the scene in their own vehicles. So you will need the extra seating and you most likely will have this truck for over 20 years. Our newest truck is a little longer but we have not had a problem getting around in the narrow spots we have around the lake.

Chad, it sounds like you've given a lot of thought to all of the pros and cons when it comes to selecting which cab you want for the new rig.  I had just a few more thoughts:

1.  You say that you're running 240 calls for service per year in 15 square miles, so it sounds like you're a fairly rural and/or light suburban community.  Does your area have the tax base to support career members, especially enough to make your department primairly career staffed?  Quick numbers:  $30,000 salary + $10,000 in benefits = $40,000 per year per person x 9 people (three people per shift) = $360,000 annual increase to the FD budget.  Not knowing your area, this might be feasible, or this might be a huge strain on the system.

2.  Parts availability - most people have an International, Freightliner, or Kenworth shop within an hours drive to help with mechanical issues.  You may not have that luxury with the custom cab.

3.  I wouldn't let the idea of the guys showing up dressed in a custom cab be a deciding factor - they shouldn't be unbelted and getting dressed enroute to the call anyway.  Custom or commerical - let them get dressed in the bay prior to leaving the station.

4.  How many mutual aid calls a year are you doing?  Is that number high enough to justify the extra $100,000 versus putting two personnel on two vehicles and responding those to your neighboring department?

5.  You can do a 4-door commerical, but beware the increased turning radius you'll encounter.

6.  Do you have a lot of older drivers?  If so, they may not like to width and feeling of driving the custom cab, and they'll take an older commercial cab rig.

I give you a lot of kudos for looking the long-range impact of which chassis to purchase - a lot of chiefs don't do that.  I personally can see good argument for both in this case.  Good luck, and let us know what you decide.

Custom cab. 

 

1)  More interior cab space.

2)  Far better turning radius.

3)  USUALLY, a longer life of the chassis than a commercial chassis because it is specifically built for the demands of the fire service.

Downsides -

Increased cost.

May have local maintainence availbility issues.

Increased driver training requirements, especially id coming of an all commercial cab fleet.

 

Increased weight, which may be an issue on rural bridges and culverts and longer, softer driveways..

 

Increased profile which may be an issue on very tight driveways.

 

There are times that a custom cab is applicable in the rural world. that time would be if your first out truck normally rolls with a 3-5 FF crew, and your district has none of the issues where the weight and profile will be an issue such as bridges and driveways as mentioned above.

Downsides -

Increased cost.  Possibly.  We bought a fully custom engine with a custom cab, 2000 gpm pump, 1000 gallons of water, a Class A foam system, 10kW pto generator, high side full depth compartments both sides and an over head ladder rack for $258K in 2005.  Shop around, you don't have to buy a big name to get a great engine.

May have local maintainence availbility issues. You may have that with a commercial cab if no dealer is close.  You also may have that with a commercial chassis anyways for issues with the actual fire part of the engine. 

 

Increased driver training requirements, especially id coming of an all commercial cab fleet.  Yeah you have to spend a ton of time teaching people how to drive an engine with better visibility and a tighter turning radius.  This is a feeble excuse, because no matter what new rig you buy people have to be trained to drive and pump with it.

 

Increased weight, which may be an issue on rural bridges and culverts and longer, softer driveways..  Why would a custom chassis, custom cab weight that much more, or more at all, than a commercial chassis?

 

Increased profile which may be an issue on very tight driveways.  In what way?  We have never had an issue in that regard with ur engine in either in town or rural ops.

 

There are times that a custom cab is applicable in the rural world. that time would be if your first out truck normally rolls with a 3-5 FF crew, and your district has none of the issues where the weight and profile will be an issue such as bridges and driveways as mentioned above.  Again explain to me why a custom chasis will weigh more than a 4 door commercial chassis...

 

Dan, the custom chassis do weigh more than their commercial counterparts.  Custom chassis are made specific to the fire service needs, therefore, they use a thicker grade of metal, a "cage style" structure to form a protective area for the occupants to ride, thicker frame rails, additional cross members, and the like.  You won't find any of these features on a commercial cab - and yes, they all add weight.  Show me a Class 7 commercial cab with 3/16" aluminum skin, and I'll gladly eat crow in front of everyone.

about a year ago we bought a 5 man conventional cab engine with all the bells and whistles we wanted with the aid of our rural and city boards for around $250,000. We love it and we have a 2 man conventional for city response, and a 4 man conventional with a crew cab as our previous primary engine.

OK FOLKS. JUST TO CLARIFY A FEW THINGS.  I MENTIONED IN MY ORIGINAL POST I WANTED A CUSTOM CAB DUE TO THE POSSABILITY THAT WE WOULD BE GOING TO A FULL TIME PAID CREW EVENTUALLY.  I DONT PLAN ON TRYING TO GET A FULL PAID STAFF FOR MY SMALL RURAL DEPT. MY BUDGET COULD NOT AFFORD 1 PAID GUY MUCH LESS A FULL CREW.  I Have only been around the fire service for about 14 years. so much has changed in that time frame. 5 years ago there was no paid staff in area fire depts in my county. now almost everyone has at least 2 full time guys during the week from 8am to 5pm. I strongly think that within the next 5-10 years or sometime within the service life of this new truck that my dept will see at least a paiud engine company. it wont come with our current budget. it may be thru mergers or by other means. i simply want this new engine to be capable of that change when it occurs.  i would hate to buy a 3 person truck and 3 years from know we hire 5 firefighters to staff the station.

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