1. #1
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    Default commercial vs custom pumper

    our fd looked at pumpers today and we looked at both commercial and custom chassis for our department. The memberships concern is a commercial chassis that is too long for our township roads with a four door and top mount pump controls. The custom meets our needs better because of the shorter wheel base. The chief is not a fan of customs and now after seeing that the price is comparable to the commercial he is stating how unsafe the custom chassis is compared to the commercial that it is rolling over rating is greater. We the firefighters dont want to waste a large sum of money on a engine that will not meet all the needs of our township. What are your guys views?

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    If your Chief really thinks that a commercial cab/chassis is SAFER than a custom cab/chassis, you guys better try to educate him on this issue. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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    do you have any info on that

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    You should make him "PROVE" to you that a custom chassis is unsafe compared to a commercial chassis.
    The beauty of a custom cab/chassis is that you can order heavier duty axles, springs, etc. on a custom chassis, that you normally can't to with a commercial. You can get the OAL and WB that you need for your area and needs. Want top mount panel or side mounted, no problem. Heck, if you want, you can have it as a rear mount panel.

    The custom cab/chassis's are alot more safer than a commercial if it is spec'd right. If they weren't, then nobody would be buying them.

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    Check out this article (see the link below) from Mike Wilbur of Emergency Vehicle Response. I have heard Mike and his partner, Tom Shand, speak at the Fire Expo in Baltimore over the past several years on this topic. There is a lot of additional info out there comparing the commercial cab vs a custom cab, both have their advantages and disadvantages, but in the safety area, custom cabs have proven to be better.

    http://www.emergencyvehicleresponse....tory.php?82255

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    thank you lead off that will help a great deal

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    Are you a staffed dept? Is there a need for the 4 or six man cab? If the commercial 4 door is too long, why dont you look into a side mount pump to shorten the length a little? Sounds like the members want a custom and the chief wants a commercial. This would be a inter-departmental issue that necessarily doesn't need to be taken elsewhere. Our dept has a policy sorta like the Vegas slogan, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". What happens at the dept stays at the dept.

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    International in the last couple of years has decided to use cab strength/rollover protection as a way to differentiate themselves from their competition.

    http://www.navistar.com/government/C...nformation.pdf

    Discuss with some custom cab mfg what standard they use for cab strength (top side front) and compare to that of commerical cab. I think you'll find the custom cabs are still stronger/safer than IH who is stronger/safer than Frtliner. I think you'll find that the cab made of welded extruded Al have the highest performance. If you go with a commerical cab and extruded body will provide considerable rollover protection to the cab occupants.

    I'm sure you've been to semi rollovers where the cab is flatten down to the level of the engine block. Will leave an impression on the crew. You won't find such damage in a custom cab rollover.

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    This would be a inter-departmental issue that necessarily doesn't need to be taken elsewhere. Our dept has a policy sorta like the Vegas slogan, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". What happens at the dept stays at the dept.[/QUOTE]

    you are right it is inter departmental issue ,but i am getting some facts before we decide as a department on which chassis to choose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by htvfd1426 View Post
    This would be a inter-departmental issue that necessarily doesn't need to be taken elsewhere. Our dept has a policy sorta like the Vegas slogan, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". What happens at the dept stays at the dept.
    you are right it is inter departmental issue ,but i am getting some facts before we decide as a department on which chassis to choose.[/QUOTE]

    You can get some good input and feedback on this forum but your truck committee should try to get out and talk to as many manufacturer reps as you can to get the info you need to make an informed decision. You'll get all sorts of opinions on this site but you guys have to sort it all out and get the facts.

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    FWIW my old department switched from custom to commercial chassis for two new engines. The chief has said he'll never make the same mistake!

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    Quote Originally Posted by htvfd1426 View Post
    our fd looked at pumpers today and we looked at both commercial and custom The custom meets our needs better because of the shorter wheel base. The chief is not a fan of customs and now after seeing that the price is comparable to the commercial?
    The Custom chassis will cost between 25 & 40 thousand $, more than a commercial chassis depending on options. That is comparing a 4 seat custom against a 4 seat commercial.
    They are roomier and are designed for fire service duty.

    Example: Spartan furion bottom level custom with 330 hp engine , allison 3000 trans and set up for 38k gvw will run in the neighborhood of 145k. International 4 door with same drive train and gvw with a pretty nice option package will come in at 122k.

    Those prices are from quotes given 2 months ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HammerheadMedicFF View Post
    FWIW my old department switched from custom to commercial chassis for two new engines. The chief has said he'll never make the same mistake!
    Hey Hammerhead - I'm originally from Fort Worth. How does the FWFD like the Spartan/General Safety pumpers they've been buying over the past several years compared to the FreightShakers? I think I know the answer but thought I'd ask anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeadOff View Post
    Check out this article (see the link below) from Mike Wilbur of Emergency Vehicle Response. I have heard Mike and his partner, Tom Shand, speak at the Fire Expo in Baltimore over the past several years on this topic. There is a lot of additional info out there comparing the commercial cab vs a custom cab, both have their advantages and disadvantages, but in the safety area, custom cabs have proven to be better.

    http://www.emergencyvehicleresponse....tory.php?82255
    Ditto on Mike's presentations and thoughts on Customs over commercial. He has tons of pictures to support this as well. In fact if you look at one of the Fire rags (maybe even FH) from the last few months, there is an article on apparatus accidents and it seems that commercial cabs fare far worse in accidents than customs. I'm pretty sure your chief has it bass ackwards.

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    I will echo the thoughts that the custom cab is a stronger cab than the commerical. A couple of other things is that a custom cab is built for the fire service. It is built stronger and tougher because it is going to take a beating. Take a look at a commercial cab that is 10 years old and it will look like it has been rode hard and put away wet, then look at a custom cab. You should be able to see the difference. We have a commerical cab as our frist out right know that is a 2000 model and it is showing it's age. We also have a 1998 custom cab with more miles and hours on it and it looks alot better than the 2000. Also the custom cab does not have near the cab noise that the commerical has. The other thing is the turning radius should be tighter on the custom. We have a new engine on order and it is a custom. The two main reasons that the Chiefs allowed us to spec a custom. Saftey of the cab and turning radius.

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    Quote Originally Posted by htvfd1426 View Post
    you are right it is inter departmental issue ,but i am getting some facts before we decide as a department on which chassis to choose.
    Is the Chief a member of the Truck Committee? If not, tell him to produce his concerns in writing, and to cite credible sources with backup research. And if he can't, tell him to go away.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Is the Chief a member of the Truck Committee? If not, tell him to produce his concerns in writing, and to cite credible sources with backup research. And if he can't, tell him to go away.
    Or is the chief the truck committee?

    Back when we was more volunteer than career, a former Chief was just that. We asked us what we wanted and then wrote a set of specs. He had never written a set of specs and had no clue on what to do. Some of the things we wanted as firefighters were not included because he wanted something else that he thought was a better idea. The next thing we knew, a new truck was on order.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rm1524 View Post
    Or is the chief the truck committee?

    Back when we was more volunteer than career, a former Chief was just that. We asked us what we wanted and then wrote a set of specs. He had never written a set of specs and had no clue on what to do. Some of the things we wanted as firefighters were not included because he wanted something else that he thought was a better idea. The next thing we knew, a new truck was on order.
    Which is precisely why no one person should be in charge of purchasing something as complex as a piece of apparatus.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    I agree completely. We now have a truck committee that reports to the operations chief. The committee does everything, the chief is a checks and balances to make sure the committee doesn't do something stupid. Everything has to be approved by the committee.

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    We have a truck committee that consists of members of each shift, two call members and an A/C. The Chief stays almost completely out of it, except to say, he does have the final say about the overall projects and a few specific requirements that we must ensure get accomplished. Ultimately, the COD is responsible to the municipality for all FD purchases, so ignoring him is not really an option. Thankfully ours has trust in his committee.

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    I'm sure there are still a lot of volly companies out there where the Chief also sits as the chairman of the apparatus committees (if they actually have a true committee) and calls the shots. This is exactly how it used to be in the company I am associated with. We had a truck committee but the Chief was the chair and ran it as he saw fit. There was no real "vote" on anything. All the other committee members could do ws to try and convince the chief to consider something but if he didn't like it, it didn't happen. Thankfully, this all changed years back when the old chief "retired" and now we have real apparatus committees that make the recommendation to the fire company for vote (approval) before the contract is signed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeadOff View Post
    Hey Hammerhead - I'm originally from Fort Worth. How does the FWFD like the Spartan/General Safety pumpers they've been buying over the past several years compared to the FreightShakers? I think I know the answer but thought I'd ask anyway.
    Somewhere or another I heard they really like them, but I've never spoken to anyone from FWFD directly about them.

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    Most companies go with a Commercial chassis due to price. It is significantly cheeper that what you may pay for a custom. In my personal opinion, when it comes to fire apparatus, you are better to go with what was engineered for the job, not something that was "tweeked" to make work. From what i have seen of rigs, if you take 2 pumpers one is commercial and one custom....and make everything from the cab back exactly the same, then take both of those rigs and run them on the same calls being used the same way, the custom cab will outlast the commercial 99.9% of the time. Most of your commercial's are light gauge aluminum, if not plastic,fiberglass with some real metal where it's neeed, and they aren't designed for the beeting we as firefighters put our rigs through. Yes, they have to meet the same nfpa standards, but thats just it... most only meet the minimums...and some a bit over, where as Custom rigs 9 times out of 10 are factored and engineered with some overkill. So in my opinion..go custom....and if your going to go custom, go with a cab offered by the apparatus builder. Nothing against spartan, HME and so on, but if E-One, KME or who ever is going to build your rig, you are less likley to run into problems with a body&pump mod that are originaly designed to fit their custom cab. I will admit, our Tanker is a commercial cab with the rest build by KME. Some of you may wonder why...its simple. Like all the other rigs I have been apart of writing specs for, we concidered custom and commercial. The cost of a custom was about $100K more than a commercial. Then we thought about how our rig would be utilized. For the most part...tankers aren't driven as "hard" as an engine..mainly becasue of the greater size and potential for roll over...and it supplies water by means of water shuttle, or may sit and flow foam. So the constant in and out front line abuse wasn't there. We looked at probably the 2 biggies of comercial cabs...Peterbuilt and Kenworth, we figured if anyone can make a commercial cab that can take abouts they can. after looking at both we chose the Kenworth T-800W (wide hood) This was their most common cab (the t-800) that is used for construction vehicles, so it's designed to be a little more beefy and take more of a beeting.... not quite the beeting that a fire truck might, but more of a beeting than other comercial cabs. Since it's been in service we havent had any problems with the chassis and it has seen its share of work.
    So if your going to go commercial, like anything else, do your homework.
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    Default Cab Strength

    Under the new NFPA 1901-2009 standards all of the chassis have to meet a SAE cab strength standard. I think the difference between a commercial and a custom is that the commercials just barely meet the standard while many of the customs have been advertized at exceeding the standard by a factor of 2 or 3 times what is required.

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    I'm always amused by the folks who think a KW or Pete is superior in construction to, say, a International for fire Service work. I do a lot of towing for the local Oil and propane companies whose truck use is somewhat similar to FS use. Now, of the five companies I service,One is almost exclusively KW/Pete and a couple others are Ints. Care to guess which trucks spend more time on the hook? Hint: It ISN'T the Internationals. A PROPERLY specced truck will serve you well,no matter WHO'S badge is on it. Just another side of the muddy river. T.C.

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