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  1. #1
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    Question Custom truck vs. program truck

    I come from a mid size department that has a history of custom trucks. We recently purchased a new attack pumper, and due to budgets went with an ALF program truck instead of custom. I'm wondering if anyone else has had experience with program trucks in general, how they worked out, and things you may have done differently.


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber npfd801's Avatar
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    I suppose my question is to ask if you're talking about a custom cab/chassis. or custom built body.

    It seems to me, that regardless of what you really want, that a lot of apparatus manufacturers won't build a truly custom body anymore. You get to chose what they make available to you, and you kind of pick and choose. I'm sure there are some that will still do everything exactly as you wish, as long as it will be sound from an engineering standpoint, but that seems to be going away in favor or a more modular construction technique.

    Am I wrong here?

    I know there are certain limitations to any design, due to chassis length, frame rails, yada yada yada, but are the truly custom clean-sheet designs still allowed by the big guys?

    --Joel

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber Crisb1419's Avatar
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    Yes, you still can build a Custom Truck, but you have to pay for it. That is the problem these days, cost. When program trucks are built they are basic, put the fire out trucks. There are some options availible also. But since price has to come in somewhere this is where. You can get a Program Truck- Custom Cab (Spartan) starting in the area of $145,000. And you can get Commercial Chasis starting at about $110,000 ( 2 doors). They are list of things that can be added to these trucks, hydraulic ladders, shelves, pull out trays, things like that. But if you start adding all these options you can price yourself up to a true Custom Truck. I know that Rosenbauer, Pierce, E-One, ALF all have these, and I am sure the rest do to.

  4. #4
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    Chris makes a good point, the program trucks really are basic get to the scene, put wet on red, and go home. Many depts have needs, but no money, program gives the viable option of having some style and a more "traditional" fire truck look and at the same time not kill the budget. Central builds a program Custom with a good amount of compartment space and, in my opinion, is probably about 50,ooo cheaper then the other big manufacturers. If money is a big concern, and it almost always is, a program custom could be better than a 35 foot commercial. But depends on where your at, needs, etc, etc.

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber mohican's Avatar
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    Default a lot like "state bid" trucks

    A program truck is the fire industries answer to what the auto industry does with option packages.

    You can get some really nice trucks fairly reasonably, but they are bare bones. What the program truck does is meet NFPA minimums, so either in commercial or custom chassis you're looking at seating for 4-6, around 300 hp diesal, 1250 gpm sidemount midship pump, 750 gallon tank, and whatever apparatus body is standard for that manufacturer.

    And that will get you a "stripped" truck that will put out fires.

    Generators, foam systems, more than minimum scene lighting, automatic chain packages for those of us that see snow, air conditioning, etc and suddenly you've added $30,000-$40,000 to you're "program" truck. Want a top mount? add another $5,000 (and two feet of wheelbase). Shore lines and air plug ins are typically extras, also.

    A program truck also typically has minimal shelving, striping, steel wheels and single body color. (which is ok, as long as it's red.)

  6. #6
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    I've had some experience with two program type trucks. One was from E-One and the other from Pierce. One thing that I have noticed is that they are cookie cutter trucks, this is what you get, take it or leave it. Its good for those that don't have the money for a more customized truck. One issue I see is that each department has different needs and sometimes "makes due" with a truck that really doesn't fit the needs. The trucks I have experience with also seemed to be of a lesser quality than a comparable "custom" truck. Each one had issues that were the result of a "hurry up and get it done quick" attitude. There were parts missing, electrical systems messed up, screwed up clearances, etc. I personally, would not get a program truck because of the problems I've seen. I am lucky enough to be on departments that have the money to afford a custom truck. Thats my opinion only.

  7. #7
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    Sutphen recently stopped by and showed off their "1901 off the line truck". Really nice looking piece of apparatus. This unit exceeds 1901 with a few of the extras "standard".

    Generators, foam systems, more than minimum scene lighting, automatic chain packages for those of us that see snow, air conditioning, etc and suddenly you've added $30,000-$40,000 to you're "program" truck. Want a top mount? add another $5,000 (and two feet of wheelbase). Shore lines and air plug ins are typically extras, also.
    This unit included (as "standard") a generator, automatic chains, air conditioning + heat front and rear, and the shore lines / air plug ins. Just another reason why we want to go Sutphen, no extended costs for the things we need on an apparatus without having to worry about power, or air pressure.

    The motor on this truck wasn't bad either, we have some really nasty hills and most apparatus in this area will scrape if they have a long bumper in the rear. This truck had a 1 foot bumper extended from the back of the body, a shorter wheelbase then most apparatus (not a "mini" or "midi" style piece) and it didn't drag on any of the hills. The representative that brought it down said it wouldn't be an issue to have the motor upgraded either, $1000 and we have an extra 65 (65 or 75) horses to pull it up those hills. This truck had barely any modifications to it, the only "extras" it had were an extra divider in the hosebed (they said that would be free since we are getting a smaller tank, 500 instead of 750) and that will allow us to extend the bed back anyways. Another addition was the extra 2 crosslays in the top, I believe it was $2500 to have those plumbed with the hydraulic lines instead of standard piping.

    I'm all for program trucks, I've seen a few in my area, and the departments that have gotten them have loved them. I know of a department nearby that just received an Emergency One, 2 man commercial cab 1500 GPM top mount pump with 750 in water, fully equiped with brand new hose, tools, etc, for 130,000. The piece was a program truck to start, they got rid of all the fancy digital gauges, reduced cost by having the electric valves changed to the levers, didn't have the ladder rack installed, and kept the truck on the bare minimums, while still designing a piece of apparatus that would efficently be able to be used to fight fire. Their choice of only a 2 man cab isn't the best, but it's what'll work for them.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber mohican's Avatar
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    Originally posted by 42VTExplorer
    Sutphen recently stopped by and showed off their "1901 off the line truck". Really nice looking piece of apparatus. This unit exceeds 1901 with a few of the extras "standard".


    This unit included (as "standard") a generator, automatic chains, air conditioning + heat front and rear, and the shore lines / air plug ins. Just another reason why we want to go Sutphen, no extended costs for the things we need on an apparatus without having to worry about power, or air pressure.

    From what I've seen of sutphens pricing, I would say that could find just about any other brand, load it with what you want, and still cost less than their "1901 standard"

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