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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You may have more than one truck to run with that staff as well. Even if you have a full crew, you still may need to run rescues, brush trucks and/or tankers with that staff.

As an example my combo department has 5 paid members aropund during the day. if we get a MVA, and there are no volunteers hanging out at the station, those 5 members have to get up and engine and the rescue. if it's a brush fire, they have to get up a tanker, engine and brush truck. And if it's a structure call they have to get up the engine, tanker and rescue. My point is that it's highly unlikely that that future paid staff will only have one vehicle to get on the road.

Hi Chad. Our department bought a custom cab pumper in 2011 and we absolutely love it. We are a small department like yours and we were weighing the pros & cons of custom vs. conventional. In the end, custom won out and we have not regretted it at all. Ours is a 6 person cab. We have a 5 person conventional as our second line pumper, and after running calls in both trucks, the custom is so much nicer and roomier. Ours cost approximately $379K and was manufactured by KME Fire Apparatus. In our case, the additional cost over a conventional was money well-spent. Hope this helps.

So I don't fully understand the American system for FD's and how they're established, staffed, budgetted for, etc, however from an outsider, the run rate and area covered sounds very light on for a justification for career staff.

 

Here in Australia, for a station to be upgraded to career staff, it needs to jump through some pretty significant hoops and justifications, though I'm not certain what those specifically are.

 

As a manager of our Unit (Probably the equivalent of your Chief?), I get concerned about any sort of finance options for major purchases. If the FD can't afford the outlay, then it can't afford it- simple. Loans put a major burden on members to ensure fundraising is maintained, grants actively pursued, etc to maintain the payments.

 

Again, from an outsider, you sound well equipped given your coverage and run rate. Is it REALLY needed?

Our dept faced this same question about 8 yrs ago.  We had all 3 person commercial chassis.  We debated back and forth endlessly until the custom won out.  We have never regretted it.  It allows for better crew coordination enroute, better mutual aid response (no POVs), alot more storage, better turning radius, shelter to warm the crew in the winter and cool them in the summer if needed.  I heard the cost aurgument in our dept which isnt insignificant but for us the benefits outweighed the costs and we have been very happy with our decision.  Whatever direction you head make sure that you have some local service for your unit available if needed! 

Chad I recently secured a purchase of a used custom cab for our department from a career department in our state for pennies on the dollar. My reasoning for this is one, the apparatus was built for our enviroment ie extemely cold Winters. Second with it coming from a city department it was well maintained. And finally you hit on the biggest point ROOM I can fit a whole crew in it and provide a warm place for Firefighters to rehab or homeowners/accident victims to get in out of the weather.

You can get a 4 or 6 man cab that is not custom. Don't spend money on a custom at this point it sounds to like
your dept. does not need to spend the extra $$$. I understand you are looking to a time when man power will be better. However with no hydrants in your area a 4 man cab would work, the extra man power when you get it can bring the tanker & other apperatus.

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