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Thread: Old rigs - How many VFD's have them and how do you keep them up?

  1. #1
    Forum Member
    TheIrons84's Avatar
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    Jun 2014

    Default Old rigs - How many VFD's have them and how do you keep them up?

    Just joined a small VFD, after moving from a town where I was in a VFD with a much larger budget. Most of the money at the new VFD is fee bill. Any other money comes from fundraisers and the sort. We have multiple older rigs, and they require a little more attention.

    I'm sure many of you here have some older rigs in your fleet. If so, how do you go about keeping them up on maintenance and care? I've noticed several issues with some of the trucks we have, which would be easy fixes. The problem is that the other members don't know how to fix the stuff or do not really care.

    I will take initiative and do some of the small repairs myself, after obtaining permission of course.

    Just wondering if any of you all have regular service intervals or people that may be mechanics..etc.

  2. #2
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    Feb 2005
    Marble Rock, Iowa


    What do you consider old? We run a 1975 Mini-pumper/brush truck, a 1981 engine and a 1991 engine.

    We are fortunate to have several Firefighters that are mechanics by trade with most of the rest of us being fairly mechanically inclined so actually doing the work isn't much of a problem. One of the problems we are starting to run in to is getting parts for things, especially the mini-pumper.

    We do have a "Maintenance" position on our department. His job is to check the trucks regularly and perform regular maintenance items (oil and filter changes, tire pressures, fluids, etc.). If we run in to an issue that is a little bigger than a general maintenance item we get the parts ordered and when they come in a few of us will get together and get it fixed.

    We are fortunate that we have the ability to maintain our own apparatus like we do. I know there are departments that struggle with the ability to do even the most basic maintenance because they don't have the knowledge to do it or the money to have someone do it for them.

  3. #3
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    Sep 2008
    SW Oregon


    Not so much today, but in recent years past, we had quite a collection of old and very old apparatus, particularly water tankers, or tenders and type 1 and 2 engines. Volunteer Fire District. Paid cadre, volunteer rolls. ISO Class 4 in town. Out here the logging industry is still somewhat intact despite Federal interference.

    Some of the stuff was ancient. Old 2 stroke Detroits, Fuller Roadranger manual trannies, Jake Brakes; all of it repaired, modified, modernised, rebuilt, improved and whatever. We had and have a very good shop mechanic who can also build just about anything and everything. We never then bought new; always used.

    Same answer. Spare parts and competent heavy truck mechanics have served us quite well. Some of the mechanics turn wrenches for a living and are also volunteer fire fighters. Makes for a good combination. We have also had great success rehabbing, fabricating and repainted VERY OLD stuff. HB of CJ (old coot) SW OR

    P.S. Some of the older stuff is actually better than the new, expensive stuff. At least they do not get stuck crossing a big speed bump at a certain angle because the computer traction control thingie did not work properly. No computers. Out here everybody can shift a 18 speed Roadranger manual transmission. Different world.
    Last edited by HBofCJ; 07-13-2014 at 01:48 AM. Reason: condensed

  4. #4
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    FyredUp's Avatar
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    Jul 1999
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee


    My first volly FD, now known as POC FD #1, back in 1977 when I joined ran a 1950 Ford Barton American 500 gpm front mount pump as our first out, a 1937 Ford Darley 500 gpm midship as our second out, and a 1949 Mack EFU (yeah look that one up) converted fuel truck as our tender. Through the years we moved up to a 1960 Ford 500 gpm front mount, a 1967 International cab forward 750 gpm front mount, a 1974 Mack CF 1250 gpm engine, 1992 Chevy Kodiak Monroe Truck 1000 gpm front mount pump/1500 water tank pumper/tender, 1985 Pierce Lance 1500 gpm engine, a 2005 HME Ahren's Fox 2000 gpm engine. Currently we run the HME engine, Pierce Lance engine, Monroe Truck pumper/tender, and a 1984 Chevy brush truck.

    Back when I first started we had a shoe string budget and we fixed everything we could in house. We had a couple of professional mechanics as well as several shade tree mechanics that handled repairs and maintenance. As time went by we started farming out maintenance to the local utility company shop for chassis repairs and maintenance, as well as pump and fire apparatus related repairs to a local fire apparatus repair center. We still do a fair amount of minor stuff in house. But the idea of someone in house destroying a 5 figure motor, or pump by errors or emissions has taken all of that out of their hands.

    If we had a trained fire apparatus mechanic on the department we might have a change of heart. Until then we look at the money spent as an investment in longevity. This department has only owned 3 new apparatus in its entire history, a 1926 Pirsch engine, 1992 Monroe Truck pumper/tender, and the 2005 HME engine. Preventative maintenance kept our older used rigs on the road, and extends the service life of the new ones.
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  5. #5
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    tree68's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    Jefferson County, NY USA


    We had several members who handled most all of the minor work - oil changes, lube, minor repairs. Specialized stuff went to the appropriate vendor. Those folks are gone, though.

    Now the routine stuff is handled by arrangement with our town highway department, and they can handle some minor repairs as well. They're equipped for heavy-duty work, after all. They even handle scheduling the routine maintenance, and pick up the trucks when necessary. Specialized stuff (pumps, body work) still goes to vendors. The highway department does bill us for time and material.

    It's not as handy as having folks in-house, but it's cheaper than having to go to commercial vendors for everything.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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  6. #6
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    WVFD705's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    Woodson, Texas


    We do all of our work and all of our maintenance ourselves. But most of our department is pretty mechanically-inclined.

    Most of our stuff is older, and other than two pickups, nothing is new enough to have much in the way of electronics on it. That keeps repairs fairly simple and straightforward. We don't have anything that requires much in the way of specialized knowledge to replace or repair.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2014


    All of our stuff is pre-1990 and we didn't to as much maintenance as we should have. We learned that lesson when two of our trucks became so badly in need of repair it became more cost-efficient to sell the vehicles, and once we were down to 1 Pumper, 1 Brush, and 1 tanker we did a much better job, it seems that about every other meeting/training is dedicated entirely to fixing the trucks. Unfortunately we don't have the money to buy the second pumper and rescue that we need so we are very focused on keeping the trucks we have going.

  8. #8
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    Nov 2002


    Ours are pump tested EVERY year, and have preventive maintenance done as well. We are funded by property taxes, so we are able to keep our trucks in good repair. We've replaced all our old trucks in the last 10 years, except for a 1991 commercial body engine, which only has 30K miles on it. Our equipment helps our ISO rating, saving taxpayers some money on insurance.

  9. #9
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    Jan 2007
    Pa Wilds


    All of the minor items like lights, loose equipment, and some plumbing issues are handled by an in-house group under the chief engineer. Major problems like brakes, tires, engine leaks & drive train go to the local heavy equipment mechanic. Annual pump maintenance, generators, on-board hydraulics for spreaders, etc get a factory repair person or certified pump maintenance mechanic in-house. Annual testing under UL for pumps, ladders & aerial. Yes, we have some older equipment (1979 Mack CF) as a reserve, but it spends more time on the front line than the 2001 Sutphen, the most hated piece in the department that spends its days on the back line.

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