Another trend, particularly in rural communities is for mini-trucks based on Ford F-550 cabs and chassis, he said, adding the mini apparatus can be fitted with up to 300-gallon tanks, 1,250-gpm pumps and even compressed air foam systems (CAFS).
The small trucks have the advantage of being able to get into tight spaces with some serious fire power, Hollister said, noting that even the smaller capacity cab can be an advantage when departments are having difficulty staffing larger apparatus.
On the other end of the spectrum are custom E-ONE 80-inch extended cabs that are popular with some departments that have large volunteer staffs and large budgets to afford "no expense spared" apparatus. There are far fewer of those kinds of customers, but they do still exist.
Most departments are looking for short wheelbase apparatus of which E-ONE’s eMAX apparatus is particularly suited.
"Customers want apparatus that’s a short as you can get," Hollister said, noting that the eMAX apparatus has a smaller pump house and more compartments than traditional apparatus.
Even rescue apparatus has undergone a transformation to have the combination of walk-around access and walk-in capabilities for command centers, Hollister said, noting that some rescues even have pull-out sections like recreational vehicles to provide more space without increasing the wheel base.
Larry Daniels, Hollister’s colleague with E-ONE, is the company’s southeastern regional sales director. He too has seen trends in his region.
Departments need compartment space more than ever before and Daniels said E-ONE answered that request with the eMAX apparatus.
Ironically, in his region, Daniels said he’s seeing a bit of an uptick in the number of custom cabs and chassis being sold over the commercial cabs and chassis.
"It may be a bit of a strategy," Daniels said. "Many departments are running a longer replacement cycle, say from a 12-year cycle to a 20-year cycle." By getting a custom cab and chassis, they are getting closer to what they want and something that is better quality because they’ll have to live with it longer.
Fire departments are also shopping for financing options and ways to save money with purchasing options, Daniels said. Customers who do save money with tax exempt loans often put the saving back into the purchase price so they can "buy more features.
And most often lately, those extra don’t equate into bells and whistles, just more "no-nonsense" features, like LED 12-volt scene lighting and other essential equipment.
Safety never seems to go out of fade and lately, it’s been growing with departments moving to apparatus with airbags, lower hose beds and options to keep firefighters firmly on the ground, including technology that can control the deck gun remotely.
"Many departments are designing apparatus with a low concept so they don’t have to climb on them for anything."
Heading into the future, Daniels said he believes the apparatus market will be flat for the next couple of years, but there will be some continued growth for E-ONE because of aggressive marketing and good products.
"We’re looking at some nice growth into the future," Daniels said.
When it comes to combining functionality of apparatus, Phil Gerace, KME’s director of sales and marketing, says KME has a number of products that offer unique versatility.
For example to meet a trend in the market, KME combined Type I and Type III apparatus to give customers true urban interface, as well as giving the departments ability to respond to wildland fires as well as some structure fires with the same apparatus.
"We have seen an increased demand for multi-function units," Gerace said. "Departments are trying to combine apparatus, particularly rescues and pumpers." To meet that demand, KME developed its PRO series apparatus, something the company is calling a better multi-purpose response vehicle.
Going hand in hand with the need for multi-purpose vehicles is the need to make better use of storage space on apparatus, Gerace said.
"There’s a trend toward using every available square inch of space for equipment," he said, noting that dunnage areas are now far more organized and utilized and even backboards are given space on apparatus where it’s available.