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Thread: Engine-Tanker? Anyone, Anyone?

  1. #21
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    It more or less comes down to use, like call volumes. Since every piece of equipment has a maintenance level at certain milestones (time or actual mileage in the case of vehicles), the larger departments will hit those milestones more often. I.E. use/abuse their stuff more often in the line of duty versus sitting around waiting for stuff to happen.

    In the average department where there are 400 total calls per year there is no difference in wear/tear and maintenance on the two types of chassis, especially considering that many calls a different truck rolls on it. The overall view is also that the cab only gets used for 5-10 minutes on the way to the run. The rest of the components of the truck are the same (pump, tank, compartments, etc) and that's what used the whole call. So since the main argument behind custom is the cab, there's no real benefit to something being used for an extra 5-10 minutes per call.

    Obviously there are nuances to it, such as max HP since customs can take the bigger motors. And if you have a solid response 24/7 where you need 6-8 seats, it makes sense to have custom. But at the same time, look at the cost-benefit from the other side of the coin: for the same $500k they can give a truck to 1 department, or fund 2 for 2 departments which may handle more runs and cover a larger combined population, meaning a better investment.

    It also depends on the truck. We hit the 12th heavy rescue ever in the program last year (our 3rd) and that was $350k. Quints and aerials are all custom chassis but that's a moot point since no one really builds them on commercial chassis. Pumpers and tankers, WUI, and the like can be built on either one but dollars to donuts the custom costs a chunk more with no inherent benefits like I stated in the previous paragraph.

    So in a nutshell, there really isn't a way to get funded for one. Of course there will be someone that comes out and says they hit one, but 1 out of 1000 apps asking for a custom chassis pumper isn't much support in favor of making that application a competitive one. I haven't done the math to go, but I'm pretty sure that most everyone will agree that over 95% of the pumpers and tankers funded are commerical chassis requests. Most end up funding the difference to get the commercial chassis afterwards by adding local funding, but just look at the spreadsheets from the past years, most fed share amounts are under $300k meaning the project request is $325k and under. The changes in standards, raw material costs, and other factors are why it's even possible to put in an app in the low $300k range. 2-3 years ago there way no way to be competitive over $300k.

    Plus it depends on who you ask for pricing from. I've had several folks in the past couple of years get 4dr tankers with 2500+ gallons of water for under $250k excluding equipment. Others swear they can't get one for less than $330k yet every year I see about $100k in difference from the low to the high quotes on the same exact specs. We still have folks getting 2dr tankers for under $230k, some under $200k. There's BMW, there's Chevy, and then there's the realization that a Cadillac is a Chevy with a $20k higher sticker price and a different set of badging glued on it. Not saying they aren't nice, but does anyone do more than $20k worth of difference in their commute in 8-10 years?
    McMechen VFD likes this.


  2. #22
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    Manufacture and dealer prices change based on location also. You can get the same truck from a different dealer and the price will change. Travel cost to and from the builder 3-4 times over the 8 month building time cost more if you have to travel from Pa to Mn for Rosenbauer, then the same truck built by 4Guys in Pa. Sometimes you will have two dealers and hour apart and the trucks cost will be different for the same truck.

    Truck prices are going through the roof, you use to get a commercial tanker for 100k, now the same truck 5 years later is $220k. Commercial Vs Custom, My vote is for Custom. Custom last longer by far and have a better warranty and the custom's stand behind their work and have a much better rep. The county I live in spent millions on commercial and in the first 3 years everyone racked up thousands a piece in repair bills and had tons of mechanical failures, So after year 4, they got rid of them all. Even the engines that were assigned to slow (200 calls a year) station were junk. Not one made it to 60k miles before the bodys rusted off, motors and trans acted up, electrical issues including when the pump was engaged, the truck would take it self out of neutral and drive off or the discharges would charge by them self driving down the road....Total 8 million dollar OOOPS. Now they are back to custom and they are holding up after 3-4 years at 4,000 call a year stations. Like they say, you get what you pay for. The Fire/Rescue/Ems service is not a place for the Gov. to nickle and dime and look to cut a dollar (But they do LOL)

  3. #23
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    It was pretty well-known that it was going to be an up-hill battle with getting an award. Even with the very unique circumstances (I realize every dept. has unique circumstances) the thought was it was worth a shot.

    I completely agree with cost-benefit arguments. With this application FEMA would also need to fund SCBA. It was noted that the dept. has an Operations and Safety grant request in, two years in a row, but it did not include SCBA for a pumper the department does not have. With SCBA, the other equipment, and training the it becomes harder to create more pros than cons to funding the application. I'm not saying unique circumstances cannot outweigh higher than average costs, but it is definitely the road less traveled.

    After communicating with departments across the country, I am of the opinion that it is time for local decision makers to stop relying on FEMA and the Federal government primarily for support. It troubles me that some politicians have not done what is necessary to ensure that needs are met. Some of these politicians will not raise taxes or re-allocate funding from pet projects thinking FEMA will come in and save the day with a grant. As a result, some applications go to peer looking like a department is just asking for to much from FEMA...but the departments probably would not have needs met unless the funding comes from the Federal government.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by WheelmanEngCo11 View Post
    Manufacture and dealer prices change based on location also. You can get the same truck from a different dealer and the price will change. Travel cost to and from the builder 3-4 times over the 8 month building time cost more if you have to travel from Pa to Mn for Rosenbauer, then the same truck built by 4Guys in Pa. Sometimes you will have two dealers and hour apart and the trucks cost will be different for the same truck.

    Truck prices are going through the roof, you use to get a commercial tanker for 100k, now the same truck 5 years later is $220k. Commercial Vs Custom, My vote is for Custom. Custom last longer by far and have a better warranty and the custom's stand behind their work and have a much better rep. The county I live in spent millions on commercial and in the first 3 years everyone racked up thousands a piece in repair bills and had tons of mechanical failures, So after year 4, they got rid of them all. Even the engines that were assigned to slow (200 calls a year) station were junk. Not one made it to 60k miles before the bodys rusted off, motors and trans acted up, electrical issues including when the pump was engaged, the truck would take it self out of neutral and drive off or the discharges would charge by them self driving down the road....Total 8 million dollar OOOPS. Now they are back to custom and they are holding up after 3-4 years at 4,000 call a year stations. Like they say, you get what you pay for. The Fire/Rescue/Ems service is not a place for the Gov. to nickle and dime and look to cut a dollar (But they do LOL)
    I agree. I have seen numerous situations where the commercial chassis company and the "cabinet" maker have played off the problems on each other so the department gets stuck with the problem because neither would back up their work. Sole-source build is the way to go, IMO. It is hard to explain so much in such little narrative space on these grant applications. In some cases, departments arrived to their conclusions based on objective facts rather than opinion. It just sucks when one is on a department that has to go through all that "trial and error".

  5. #25
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    Wheelman: It sounds like you have been drinking the koolaid.
    The body rusting off or engine acting up at 60.000 miles won't make a difference if it is on a custom or commercial chassis. they are the same. engines, transmissions, axels, springs, brakes, tires, . Custom chassis manufacturers use off the shelf components with the same warrantees as commercial chassis builders. If the crews abuse a truck or don't maintain it there will be issues.

    In any case you are not making a good argument for grant funding for a custom.
    McMechen VFD likes this.

  6. #26
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    Im not making an argument for custom, Just stating that my county bought a dozen commercial and had nothing but issues. they had to replace them all within 4 years, so in the long run it cost them a ton. They ended up buying 12 new custom pumpers, 4 years later they are still going strong. Now we do have 4 older commercial Mid 90's) that are still in service but are only special use, not everyday use.

    Koolaid, LOL never. I've never been the one to drink the Koolaid. I also tried to get them to go for a urban interface engine to replace the 83 since we protect the mountain, farmland. We need something 4wheel drive, short wheel base also. We have a few needs and unfortunately, they all cost big $$$ that we don't have. I don't need or have to have a custom engine, I like all, just know which ones I've had luck with over the last 17 years in the Fire Service. I've been involved in the building of 4 new engines, 1 rescue engine, 1 tanker and 2 brush trucks over those 17 yrs, So I do have a lot of experience in the replacement and building of new apparatus. I'm not stuck on commercial or custom, Pierce vs Seagrave etc, Just whats best for my dept and what meets or long term needs and our goals.

  7. #27
    Forum Member McMechen VFD's Avatar
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    Again why not request a Pumper and not list custom or commercial? Just ask for the going amount My Guess is 300k and add the rest of the funds to make it a custom? We did it Do i think a commercial would have done the job? Yes. Do i like the Custom better? Yes.

    I am sure if you are buying trucks every 4 years or so in your area that you have a truck fund. in 2010 we bought a great Custom for around 350k it had 2 times the space as our older custom and so far the guys love it and most of it was funded by AFG.


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    John & Sheila
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  8. #28
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    My fire company is not in the same county that I live in. The county I live in has a career dept 100% funded through the county, state and tax money....My volunteer dept receives no funding from any source other then in house fund raising. We don't have a" truck fund" and don't replace trucks every 4 years, the 2005 engine replaced a 1980 Ford, the 1986 replaced a 1976 Mack and the 1993 was an add on due to the major water issue we have. Both the 1986 and 1993 were demo units, not trucks specked out and designed by use and were bought used at a discounted price.

  9. #29
    Forum Member McMechen VFD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WheelmanEngCo11 View Post
    My fire company is not in the same county that I live in. The county I live in has a career dept 100% funded through the county, state and tax money....My volunteer dept receives no funding from any source other then in house fund raising. We don't have a" truck fund" and don't replace trucks every 4 years, the 2005 engine replaced a 1980 Ford, the 1986 replaced a 1976 Mack and the 1993 was an add on due to the major water issue we have. Both the 1986 and 1993 were demo units, not trucks specked out and designed by use and were bought used at a discounted price.
    WheelmanEngCo11 With all due respect looking at what your department has and needs i would be happy with what the grant will give. It is not worth wasting your time trying to prove that you need a custom and then get a DJ at the end. Put in for a pumper at 275-300k and buy a nice truck. We ave a 2010 Sutphen in Sherrard on an International cab that sits 5 and we have more leg room in the Commercial truck than we do in our custom here in McMechen. Be happy with what you can get. Good Luck!
    John & Sheila
    McMechen Volunteer Fire Department
    "Always Ready Always Faithful"

    www.mcmechenvfd.com
    jdavis@mcmechenvfd.com

  10. #30
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    I am having a hard time understanding the whole custom vs. Commercial cab argument. First of al i am all for having a custom cab, but i can walk no more than 300ft from where i am sitting right now see 20+ commercial cab trucks with more than 1 million miles on each of them. They are internationals, freightliners, kenworths and a few peterbilts. Gvw's from 33-110k. If commercial cab trucks only last 60k miles then i would be out of business. These trucks are used for oil/gas field service so they are used very hard. However after reading all of this maybe i should look into seeing if any custom cab manufacturer wil build me a truck. I doubt it. On a side note, Spartan does make cabs and chassis for drilling rigs and the do hold up fairly well.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er View Post
    The rest of the components of the truck are the same (pump, tank, compartments, etc) and that's what used the whole call. So since the main argument behind custom is the cab, there's no real benefit to something being used for an extra 5-10 minutes per call
    Plus it depends on who you ask for pricing from. I've had several folks in the past couple of years get 4dr tankers with 2500+ gallons of water for under $250k excluding equipment. Others swear they can't get one for less than $330k yet every year I see about $100k in difference from the low to the high quotes on the same exact specs. We still have folks getting 2dr tankers for under $230k, some under $200k. There's BMW, there's Chevy, and then there's the realization that a Cadillac is a Chevy with a $20k higher sticker price and a different set of badging glued on it. Not saying they aren't nice, but does anyone do more than $20k worth of difference in their commute in 8-10 years?
    We just put in service a 2000 gallon tanker with all NFPA compliant equipment from a major manufacturer {SPARTAN} for a total of $208,000.00 It is on an Navistar single axel 2 door chassis with a 500 gpm pump,2 crosslays power porta tank lift, triple 10" newton stainless dumps All stainless schedule 40 piping, backup camera , 2 large compartments , SCBA compartment etc. It is not a stripper truck by any chance.

    when we went out to bid there were 4 responses to our RFP. Prices ranged from $208k - 248 k all based on the same spec which we wrote, not a salesman.
    We did not get AFG funding for it and bought what WE wanted, not what a salesman thought we needed to buy from him.

  12. #32
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    To echo another post from above, if compartments are rusting out then that's a non-chassis issue anyway, and even if the frame has rust that's also a design or manufacture issue independent of the chassis. If you're in a snowy/ict area there should be some sort of heavy coating to the underside of the truck that can withstand the salt, oil, and other stuff that will hit the underside while in use. And also have those that ride it take care of it by washing that stuff off when needed, like every other day at a minimum. I've ridden 20+ year old trucks without a spot of rust on them because they were taken care of. It's one of those inevitabilities with everything: if you don't take care of it, it won't last whether it's a truck, equipment, clothes, or yourself. PM stinks since it's manual labor, and getting up at 5am to go to the gym does too, but both are required and I don't dwell in a glass house when I say this either. I PM everything I own as much as I can, and if it doesn't last it's my own fault not the manufacturer. I also hit the gym as much as I can since I was in "a shape" a few years back and now I can say I'm in shape. As we said in BCT, "embrace the suck" and do what has to be done and all things will last.

  13. #33
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    I have seen several departments who managed to purchase custom-cab apparatus from their AFG awards. They are all entry-level chassis and VERY basic. Most were demo units, so they had pretty good discounts attached to them.

    They are very basic and just enough to do the job. They don't have electric locks and windows, they don't have all the fancy trim, etc.

    That, in my mind, is the intent of the grant program. It's not to get you a $450K engine with all the bells and whistles. It's to get you what you "need" to do your job safetly and effectively.

    None of them asked for a custom, they asked for an engine with certain capabilities and managed to get a custom and add a couple of seats to what was their intent.

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