1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default KME versus LTI

    We are considering buying either a KME or a LTI tower.

    Anybody got any strong positive or negative feelings about either company?

    How about any recurring maintainence issues?

    Lastly, how has the manufacturer supported your fire department, after the sale.

    If you do not care to post your comments here, e-mail me at bigbird@mail.ameritel.net.


    Bruce Theden

  2. #2
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I realize that my initial statement was a bit too strong, so I dumped it; but here's my advice: buy the LTI.

    The volunteer department I run with has a 1980 Pierce/LTI telesquirt and a 1974 Imperial/Grove straight ladder. Since we are located about an hour from LTI's plant, we go directly to them for all our service on both trucks. They have always treated us very well and they get things done on time and within budget. The LTI aerial itself has always performed well. The only repairs we've needed (beyond routine maintenance) were the results of fireground damage (roof collapses, venting fire onto the stick, burning the hydraulic lines through, for example).

    On the other side, one of our chief officers is also a career FF/Engineer with a nearby city that ends up with KMEs on low bid. The list of problems he's talked about is long: electrical problems, compartment doors failing, bad seals causing leaks and unnecessary rust, and more. In short, you coulnd't give us a KME (based on the city's experiences)...we don't need the down time and repair bills. I will say this much: I haven't heard of any problems with the aerial ladders themselves, just everything else that they sit on. I'll also grant that there are entire regions of PA where companies swear by KME. I'm just not from one of these places.

    [This message has been edited by Bob Snyder (edited July 06, 1999).]

  3. #3
    Tom Lafleur
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Our 2 KME pumpers have given us no problems, if thats any help.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We have a KME ladder truck and it is a very good truck. We are most likely getting a KME pumper to replace our old pierce pumper. We are looking at other trucks and the KME just are built nicer. Just a few quick thoughts.

    Kyle www.chalfontfireco.8m.com

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    Go for the LTI with R. D. Murray stainless steel bodywork and you won't have a problem.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I don't have any experience with a KME aerial, but my experiences with a KME engine (1987 model) are not good. Lots of chassis, body, and electrical problems. It dog-tracked so bad at one point that you would miss mirrors on parked cars with the front bumper, but clean them off with the right rear compartment. You could almost read the lettering on the side when following behind it. It continually shakes all the fasteners on the body loose (even the industrial-strength Loc-Tite can't keep them together). The pump has had problems (mostly due to how it was installed), the cab mounts have pulled through the floor of the cab, etc. I could go on forever, you get the idea. A few departments near me have newer KME engines, and don't seem to have as many problems as we've had, but also don't have our call volume (1600+/year). Maybe KME has improved significantly since ours was built. I don't think I would ever vote to purchase another one though. As for the LTI aerial, I had the opportunity as a member of a truck committee to tour their facility, and operate one of their aerials at my state's fire academy a few years back, and found them to be a well-constructed and designed all-steel ladder truck. However, after a long process, we opted to purchase a 95' Sutphen (really smooth aerial operation!) The other bidder was Grumman (before the merger), but at almost $100,000 more than Sutphen. Our 1929 era station limited our choices due to overall dimensions (only two manufacturers bid). The Sutphen hasn't been totally problem free, but has been a pretty good piece of apparatus. I'd be sure to study hard what you plan on doing with this vehicle, and base your decision on what makes the most sense for your department. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I do not know about LTI but I do know that our department has one KME K-Mart speciel
    and it sucks bigtime.
    The truck has had trouble from day one and the company has never stood behind its work.

    It has been in the shop more than it has been inservice.

    Take a look at Suphen trucks because we have 3 and thay have the least trouble.
    We got a pumper in 84 and the only big problem came in 98 which was the transmission.

    The important thing to consider is the specs YOUR Department sets with the bids.

    Take a little time to learn how to spec a truck

    Good Luck

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I can't speak for the KME line of products, but I do have some insight about LTI's products.

    My agency owns a 1992 Simon/LTI 75 foot quint on a Spartan chassis. We've had very few problems with the truck, and LTI's service has been great. We also participate in a general maintenance program with LTI, where they come to our department with their mobile tool-box (literally) and do a <u>complete</u> check of the truck, top to bottom. Problems that are encountered are fixed - anything from busted reflectors to hydraulic problems.

    The majority of problems we've had were firefighter induced, and were fixed in-house. It's always a wise idea to ask others their opinions when contemplating such a major purchase - such as you're doing. I might also suggest that you ask both LTI and KME for customer lists and call other departments from around the country. And, if it's a major city ask to talk with someone in the shop's or city garage - they'll give it to ya straight!

    LTI Big City's: Philadelphia, Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County, San Fransisco, and Dallas to name a few. If I missed a few others, I apologize...

    Best of luck!

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    My department owns 2 1994 KME pumpers & 1 1989 LTI 75' ladder. We have not had any major problems with any apparatus. The
    problems we have had with the apparatus were problems with equipment manufacturers other than KME or LTI. I guess it's a little tough for me to prefer one over the other since I have a taste of both worlds in regards to this forum topic. Good luck with your purchase.

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