Consider These Fire Apparatus Replacement Guidelines Before Your Next Purchase

Jon's Mid America

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “don’t spend a dollar to save a dime”. Simply put, this means that you should never spend excessive money to save a little bit. In the case of fire apparatus purchasing, this phrase packs a punch.

It’s rare that a department would want to replace an aging fire apparatus. It may be an issue of access — for instance, a smaller department simply may not have the budget to get a new or new-to-them apparatus. It could be a concern of cost, leaving your department wondering why they would buy an apparatus when they could repair the one they already have.

There aren’t any hard and fast rules about fire apparatus purchasing, which can make it hard to navigate. Before you start looking for your new fire apparatus, read over these guidelines.  

What does the NFPA say?

The National Fire Protection Association offers some fire apparatus replacement guidelines that a department should take into account before their next purchase. First, departments should execute caution when considering whether to refurbish or update their current apparatus. While it may seem like a good, quick fix, these smaller fixes add up quickly. Any trucks over 20 years old will see no value from upgrading, and after 25 years a fire apparatus should be retired.

The NFPA has also provided a list of questions to answer as your department completes the purchasing process:

  • What is the true condition of the truck?
  • Has it been in any accidents or has it encountered any other major issues?
  • Does it meet the needs of your department?
  • Is it fully operational, or does it just “get by”?
  • Will a refurbished apparatus be as safe and operational as a new truck?
  • Will it continue to work or is it obsolete?
  • What is the cost per year?
  • What is the trade-in value?
  • Has it been long enough that you will lose all of your value?

Making the case for a new fire apparatus  

City councils, purchasing committees or anyone else who plans to fund your apparatus likely will have a lot of questions for you. They may only see the number on the price tag and fail to understand the significance of the purchase.

Practice these statements to help bolster your case:

  • A worn out fire truck puts everyone at danger. Not only is a poorly maintained apparatus a threat to the community, it’s a threat to the firefighters who ride it day in and day out. If a firefighter cannot reach their destination safely and quickly, the chances of a disaster grow higher and higher.
  • We need to do a comprehensive analysis. Just scanning over the cost and assuming a new truck would be more expensive is reductive. A new truck may be more expensive, but it requires a deeper look into the other costs associated. Factor in insurance costs, downtime, maintenance, repair costs and depreciation.
  • Repairing doesn’t change the age of the unit. Though it may buy time, it doesn’t take years off the apparatus. As soon as an apparatus gets too old, it needs to be retired to fit NFPA standards.
  • “It works now” isn’t an excuse. It’s hard to justify spending if there aren’t any immediate issues, but waiting for a disaster isn’t safe or productive. It’s far better to be prepared than to get stuck during a fire because your apparatus is failing.

If your department is looking to invest in a fire apparatus that will last them for years to come, contact Jon’s Mid America.

We can match you to the perfect apparatus for department’s needs.

firefighter checking water hose