1. #1
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    Exclamation Please help us w/F-550 or equiv rescue

    I've tried this post last week but it didn't get on, so forgive me if they both show up. My name is Kevin and I'm City Manager of a small town w/a small VFD. We need a "rescue" truck but, like most small towns, we are EXTREMELY tight on money. Also, we admit to knowing very little of the details needed to spec and buy a vehicle. Clearly, you all do know a great deal about such thing, so PLEASE HELP. About all we know is that we want to buy a new Ford F-550 (open to comparible brands/sizes) with a 4-door, dual cab, 4WD, 300 gal tank, pump and run capable, Desiel 6.4, and a big box with multiple cabinets. I am assuming (guessing) that it would be cheaper to find a supplier who mass produces such vehicles...is that true, and if so...can you all please recommend some? We know we might have to accept some things we wouldn't get if doing a custom build, but we aren't that picky and are much more worried about saving money. In short, based on the few specs I've laid out here, I'd GREATLY appreciate ANY information you might have for helping a small VFD get a new rescue truck! Any advice, including suggested changes in the basic specs, names of venders (especially near TN), or other info would be MOST APPRECIATED!!! THank-you all very much.
    Kevin

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    Pierce is usually a safe bet. They are a very large company so they have a pretty good support system in place for maintenance, etc. Also they make a quality truck. Another to look at is Alexis. They are pretty good at making medium and small apparatus.
    One thing to always be cognitive of is your weight. If you are going to put a small pump and tank on your rescue, you already have some major weight on your F-550. If you are thinking of putting a cascade system on your truck, be careful on how you do it. Sometimes they end up putting the bottles up high so they have more compartment space. This makes the truck handle like crap. I would put no more than 4 bottles on anyway.
    We had a F-550 rescue truck with a 6 bottle cascade system, extrication tools and other stuff and we had TONS of problems with keeping it in service. You are going to go through a lot of brakes, let alone the fact that it will always handle like crap.

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    Toyne in Breda Ia is a good bet for this type of unit. Check their web site
    www.toyne.com

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    First I would check with the state to see if there is a program that allows you purchase the type of truck you want on a gsa contract. If that's not possible, look into hiring an apparatus architect. These are people who specialize in designing apparatus for your specific needs. At the very least you will need someone to help draw up the specs for the truck. Make sure the specs are specific enough to get what you want and need but open enough to get multiple competitive bids. No matter which manufacturer you choose make sure that the service after the sale is there. Dealer support is just as important if not more important than the manufacturer. A word about the weight, don't try to pack to much equipment on a light duty frame stay within the GVW of the vehicle.

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    thecityman -

    You pretty much described the rig that my department just spec'd and is having built thanks to the AFG (although we used a Compressed Air Foam pump, which you may or may not want to consider)
    Don't assume that the "big boys" out there are cheeper.
    Our experience was just the opposite. Some of the smaller builders out there focus more on the F550 type of trucks, and can build them cost effectively.

    While we haven't taken delivery yet, we have been very pleased and impressed with the people at Unruh Fire in Kansas.
    They only seem to use the top of the line parts, and others that have seen and/or used their rigs attest to a high level of fit & finish.
    They listened and worked with us tirelessly, when other vendors seemed to be put out whenever you asked them questions.

    Most importantly, Unruh beat the socks of the next closest competitor in price, while using the same, if not better components.
    One thing to keep in my, in addition to the hundreds of other things, is that you will save time and money by placing the order BEFORE 1 Jan 2009, when new NFPA standards take effect and will add to the cost and complexity of all fire apparatus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thecityman View Post
    I've tried this post last week but it didn't get on, so forgive me if they both show up. My name is Kevin and I'm City Manager of a small town w/a small VFD. ...
    While you may end up ramrodding this project, someone needs to if you're going to get an order completed in the next 50days, make SURE you get input from FD and buy in. YOu may have to jam meetingsdown their throat. FD members may be willing to let you put the project together (they don't have to spend the time) but make sure that they make that decision.

    And you do want to do soon as Jan 1 effective date for NFPA1901-2009 will increase your price $15k+. At present Ford apparently is not going to be compliant with 1901-2009.

    A Class IH 4300/4400 (or perhaps a Frtliner M2) is worth considering. Rescues almost always end up overloaded and a real truck will serve you well with increased load capacity and longevity.

    Most important single issue in chosing a supplier is what their service in your area is. Mobile repair truck/trucks from the dealer based within a couple hours of your station. This is often the failing of small or regional builders. May be less expensive but when you have a problem and need help (even while the warranty is "in effect") they never heard of you.

    Check on Classic Fire. They build a large volume of light rescues and are very responsive.

    Pierce likely would be the most expensive option out there.

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    http://www.blanchatmfg.com/minuteman.php
    try this link the minuteman model is probably close to what your looking for
    Puttin the wet stuff on the red stuff!

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    We got a similar rig last year, identical F-450 chassis but used a commercially availible box by Knapheide. A lot of this stuff can be done in the city shops if you've got talented people. Local vendors may be more willing to deal on prices of various things also(Lightsbars, body, etc.). You can get some of these commercial boxes with a transverse front compartment and have a local fab shop build slide out trays, etc. That would still give you use of the majority of the bed and room for the skid unit. Put additional tool boxes on top of the body and you've got a good amount of compartment space. You can do it well, save a lot of $$, and still get a truck with a lot of functionality. Our last one ended up lasting us 20 years.

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    Lots of builders will outfit the "Reading" style utility body, and you get a fairly inexpensive rig that will suit many departments for a long time. You lose some of the customization, but you gain a lot of rig for a lot less money. Everything is a trade off... Even FDNY has this style of rig in service in some support roles.

    We've had two Stahl based units on my department. One is a department built unit from 1992 and still is doing fine as a reserve light squad. We're going to put a little money into the body to keep it in service for a few more years, as the thing runs strong and really owes us nothing. The other is a 1999 that Monroe put together and is only now starting to get some corrosion on the rear bumper.

    To be brutally honest, the two Stahl units have been less troublesome than the three engines and two squads we've bought from "real" fire apparatus builders, but that is to be somewhat expected from something so brutally simple. Add in the fact that many of these utility bodies are also now available in aluminum, and you can do quite well.

    I've bid a utility bodied "brush" or "quick attack" rig for the company I sell for, and I know my competition sells quite a few as well. I'd look for this route if you need to do something on the cheap. Toyne, Alexis, Fouts, etc. are all capable of doing this kind of thing. Just be careful that you compare apples to apples on specs, some of these rigs are cheaper than others because the specs really strip down on components.

    Good luck!
    "Share your knowledge - it's a way to achieve immortality." - Stolen from Chase Sargent's Buddy to Boss program

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy2802 View Post
    thecityman -

    You pretty much described the rig that my department just spec'd and is having built thanks to the AFG (although we used a Compressed Air Foam pump, which you may or may not want to consider)
    Don't assume that the "big boys" out there are cheeper.
    Our experience was just the opposite. Some of the smaller builders out there focus more on the F550 type of trucks, and can build them cost effectively.

    While we haven't taken delivery yet, we have been very pleased and impressed with the people at Unruh Fire in Kansas.
    They only seem to use the top of the line parts, and others that have seen and/or used their rigs attest to a high level of fit & finish.
    They listened and worked with us tirelessly, when other vendors seemed to be put out whenever you asked them questions.

    Most importantly, Unruh beat the socks of the next closest competitor in price, while using the same, if not better components.
    One thing to keep in my, in addition to the hundreds of other things, is that you will save time and money by placing the order BEFORE 1 Jan 2009, when new NFPA standards take effect and will add to the cost and complexity of all fire apparatus.
    I'll ditto what Andy says. When we got a grant for a quick attack (like what you're describing), we started with the big boys like Pierce, E-One, Rosenbauer, etc. Then we started looking at some smaller guys, like Wynn, Weiss, Fouts Brothers, Monroe Truck, and Unruh. All of the smaller guys beat the big boys on price. The reason I was given (by a sales rep for one of the big boys) is that they specialize in the heavy apparatus and building smaller apparatus is almost a nuisance.

    We ended up going with Unruh, for much of the same reason Andy mentions and the fact that they were closer than most other companies. There's a lot of smaller manufacturers that build just small rigs like what you're looking at, don't be afraid to give them a call.

    If you want some of the dealers I found and talked with on our rig, PM/Email me and I'll be glad to send you some links to their websites.

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    If you check out this link it will take you to Fouts Bros. down in georgia. They build a truck that is very much like your spec. Travis is easy to deal with and ask any questions you might need answered. The truck I linked to is around 75 k as shown.
    Definitely look at the smaller regional builders that specialize in building these smaller trucks versus the big boys who really don't want to waste their time with them. The pricing will show you that you pay a premium from the big builders.
    Any more info you need you can just ask here and you will receive many answers.

    http://www.foutsfire.com/minipumper.html

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    A lot of the career departments in this region have built in their shops similar rigs.

    Wichita, Kansas last I heard built all of their squads using a utility body. You can google their website for their phone number and inquire what was their cost to build.

    The city I live in Overland Park, Kansas runs one mostly during daytime hours for extra manpower in their busy Metcalfe corridor from 103rd street to 119th street. you can contact them for information.

    Also among the builders to consider is Danko out of Synder, NE. They are affiliated with Smeal Fire and build from what I have seen a good product.

    Good luck.

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    thecityman,
    There have been a lot of good points brought out here. I agree with the weight issue. Every fire apparatus has the "Velcro effect" which means every year it will gain weight because of new stuff that it carries. Make sure you account for this. Have you talked with the fire department about how they want to operate this truck? By that I mean, do they want the primary rescue tools on the right side so they are easily accessible while the truck is placed in a blocking position for traffic? Will the tools they carry fit the truck you are buying? The fire department can answer a lot of these questions if you ask them.
    The GSA or state bid contract is definitely something to ask for. If overall size is not a problem a larger truck type chassis may be a better deal in more ways than one.
    Haven't see it thrown out there yet so check out www.danko.net. Danko does a good job of building the type of truck you are looking for. Also ask the reps about demo units. They may have something that fits your needs already built that could meet your budget even if you have to make a couple minor changes to it.
    Good luck,
    Walt
    Train like you want to fight.
    www.kvfd.net

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    Default Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You

    Folks, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all the information and assistance. I'm blown away at your willingness to help...and HELP YOU HAVE! I was nervous about posting here since most of you all seem to be so much more knowledgable and I also wondered how much patience you'd have with a small town volunteer department since I'm guessing the majority of you are full time fire professionals. You have dispelled all those concerns, and been great help. I'm printing all these responses and am about to start doing web searches to expand on some of the points made here AND to find some of the company addresses so I can send them a bid packet. In short, Thank-you. Meanwhile, I'll continue to check back daily so any other comments will still be appreciated.
    Kevin

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    Toyne dealer for Tennessee. Easy to work with and Toyne builds a great product.

    www.toyne.com

    Almon & Associates

    John Almon
    Columbia, TN
    615-202-6114
    Last edited by WCENG23; 11-04-2008 at 07:00 PM.

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    Think carefully what you want this truck to do.While I love Ford products,once you get the pump,300 H2O,THEN start adding "Rescue"items,you can quickly max out the GVW.This is somewhere you DON'T want to be.So add up your "want" list and weights BEFORE purchase and see if the 550 is right for you. T.C.

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    Default Plan, Plan, Plan, and then Plan it again

    I agree with Rescue101. Put a plan down on paper with specs of everything you want on the truck and everything you want the truck to do. We ended up with a used IH 4300 chassis and a used rescue body from another department. The main purpose of the truck is rescue and medical runs, but it can also draft for us to fill tankers. We are very rural, so this showed up in our planning. Once we had our wish list we moved up to the larger truck for GVW and eliminated some of the more elaborate bells and whistles due to the types of runs we have made in the past. Tough job but can be made easier with everyone sitting down and talking about how the truck will be used.

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    Are you committed to a unit built by a fire apparatus vendor? If not you should consider a commercial unit and add emergency equipment yourself. We did this with a unit a couple of years ago. It's an '07 F550 with an 11' enclosed utility body by Stahl. Price came in just under $50,000. Plenty of interior and exterior storage space. We went with the 6' interior height so it's a little tall but we've had no handling problems. GVW is just under 14000 as loaded. Hopefully the 6.4L engine will have the balls to pull it. Our's has the 6.0 and it sucks. Best of luck to you.

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    Here's what I've found to be the biggest set back.

    The weight rating on the truck being inadequate for the weight of a small midship pump and all the equipment to go on it. A neighboring company has a similar piece of apparatus and have that issue. Make sure you spec it right and look at your options. There's a lot of lightly used larger rescues out there that might suit you guys well. Do in depth research and pick the right rig for the job. Good Luck!
    "I don't wanna hear about it... I wanna see results!!!":-P

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    Quote Originally Posted by thecityman View Post
    About all we know is that we want to buy a new Ford F-550 (open to comparible brands/sizes) with a 4-door, dual cab, 4WD, 300 gal tank, pump and run capable, Desiel 6.4, and a big box with multiple cabinets. Kevin
    I am not sure if you are open to a used piece or not. I happened to see this advertised and figured you may want to check in to it.

    http://www.alpha20.org/Old%20Brush%20Ad.htm

    Good luck.

    Kelly

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    Just a thought but you might want to look at a quality newer used model. Maybe a truck thats under 5 yrs old and low miles. They are several around and alot cheaper then new.

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    Quote Originally Posted by volfireman034 View Post
    Just a thought but you might want to look at a quality newer used model. Maybe a truck thats under 5 yrs old and low miles. They are several around and alot cheaper then new.
    Like volfireman034 put it,

    there are a number of more recent examples of Vehicles already produced that are in excellent condition being offered out at a fraction of the cost, here's one, it's a two door but there are two available

    http://www.nefirebrokers.com/node/51

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    Default Keep it comming

    My gratitude continues to grow for all the help and information. The reason I haven't been more vocal and responsive to various comments is that I'm still in the "new member" phase where they have to review my comments before posting, and so far it takes about 8 days from the time I reply until it gets posted....which seems crazy but I love the site so I'm not about to start bad-mouthing management. Anyway, just so you know, I have managed to put together a set a specs based on the information gained from these posts, AND I have mailed a set of specs to each and every company that has been mentioned on here by anyone (11 have been mentioned in case you wonder!) I continue to check back and appreciate everyone's help.
    Kevin

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