1. #1
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    Default Poly Bodies for a Light Rescue

    We are in the midst of trying to replace our current 1996 Dodge with contractor box rescue. One of the options given was to use a poly contractor box as they are cheaper than the steel ones, let alone aluminum.

    My question is this:
    For those of you that have poly bodies, how are they holding up?
    Does the expansion/contraction affect the mounting of doors, shelves, etc.?

    I am concerned as in a previous life I was involved with plastics and their reaction to heat and cold. As we are in northwestern PA, this is a serious consideration for us as this truck should last at least 15 years for us.

    Is there any meaningful feedback out there? Or better yet, anyone willing to give us $40k so that we can get something built for us?

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    Doesn't anyone run poly bodies? I was under the impression that they were widely used now (or said one salesman).

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    ALL poly, or poly panels on a rigid frame of some sort?

    Honestly, I don't see how an all poly body could hold up to the rigors of a work truck. But then I've never seen one, and I could be wrong...

    My dept does have a squad truck with a fiberglass utility body made by Stahl. We've gotten plenty of use from it, and it basically eliminates the salt inspired body rot concerns. The open center portion got a spray on bed liner to protect the bed and the interior faces of the compt body. Also added were two aluminum coffin compartments, with doors on the rear for long tool storage.

    We use it more or less like a " Johnny and Roy" style unit. Ie, it's our EMS squad, light rescue, and handles service calls like wire issues, water problems etc. The open bed allows us to haul large numbers of air bottles for re-filling and return to the scene; Frozen/dirty hose to be cleaned; bulk whatever; or anything else that needs to be moved. The chassis is a 4x4 F450. Cab storage for 2 airpacks, turnout gear, handtools, handlights and radios. A crew can respond to a fire, and be fully equipped and ready to go. Also has a 5kw gas generator, a tripod light and some cordlights.

    Is that the sort of info you were looking for?

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    Hunt Pa: You are about 50 miles from Johnsonburg, Pa. Take a ride down there and look at the Young body on their 25 year old Ford / Young engine. They have NEVER had a problem with the body or compartments on that engine.

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    So Engine 21 is poly? I never knew that. I will have to talk to them about it.

    We did look at fiberglass, but they weigh more and cost more. The use of the unit is similar to how you describe - EMS / QRS, light rescue, traffic control, etc. We are looking at a 4 door 550/5500 chassis size with the bed on back. The biggest limiting factors are the overall length, height, and ability to carry multiple long boards, board splints, and other long items that can't be in the weather.

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    I've looked at a lot of the poly bodies over the years at the trade shows, but have only seen a couple of them being used in the field (both of them were on light-duty rescues as a matter of fact).

    The manufacturers that I've spoken with acknowledge the fact that there is contraction and expansion - I remember one of them telling me that they won't do roll-up doors on their bodies out of concern about the doors working properly when the body changes size. I wish I could remember who told me that at FDIC a couple of years ago.

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    Hunt: I might be wrong. It could be fiberglass. I remember they had "Fat Jack" jump on the sample door while it was stretched between two 2 x 4's and it held up.

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    I have not heard much about poly bodies, but what I have heard was good. In fire service applications, the biggest drawback I can see is that they will melt - something you should not have to worry about on a light duty rescue application.

    Plastics have come a long way since your "former life".

    For me, the biggest question is:

    If your on a budget and going with a contractor style box anyway, who are you talking to that is giving you a price of $40k? You should be able to get a utility body that will go on a one ton truck chassis for way, way, way less than that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    I have not heard much about poly bodies, but what I have heard was good. In fire service applications, the biggest drawback I can see is that they will melt - something you should not have to worry about on a light duty rescue application.

    Plastics have come a long way since your "former life".

    For me, the biggest question is:

    If your on a budget and going with a contractor style box anyway, who are you talking to that is giving you a price of $40k? You should be able to get a utility body that will go on a one ton truck chassis for way, way, way less than that.
    The former life was less than 2 years ago.

    The $40k was for the difference between a poly utility body and a "base" fire body made of aluminum. We are looking at a difference between about $50-$60 and $100k.

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    We have had an all poly body on a rescue pumper since 2003. We were initially skeptical until we visited the factory (Pro-Poly of America) in Wisconsin.

    Up here in Connecticut, we see our share of temperature changes without any issues.

    The body has held up very well. Even when someone backed it into (and I mean INTO) the firehouse. The firehouse was resting on top of the truck and the area around the coffin compartments was bowed but ONLY temporarily. Once we extricated the truck from the building everything popped back into shape on its own and the only repairs were cosmetic in nature to the truck (and $20,000 to the building).

    Another time, someone managed to rip out the wheel well liner off the truck (again, don't ask). The body shop was able to re-weld the poly material and make it look like new.

    See http://www.willingtonfire.org/data/s113/s113-3.jpg or our Squad 113 pictures at http://www.willingtonfire.org/apparatus.html

    It was suggested to us when we bought the truck that roll-up doors work better on a poly body that conventional ones but since we wanted the roll-ups anyway, that wasn't an issue for.

    We've exposed the poly to Hurst tool fluid with no apparent effects. The natural white color on the inside of the compartments keeps everything bright in the nighttime and we don't have any paint to scratch. If we scratch the poly, it can be sanded out with progressive grades of sandpaper.

    Perhaps the only negative comments I would have is that the fixed shelves (without a metal roll-out assembly underneath them tend to warp over time but these were made of a much lighter material than the rest of the body.

    Let me know if you have any questions....

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