How to Find a Fire Truck that Matches Your Department’s Needs

It’s been a few years (or more) since your last apparatus purchase, and your 20 year old truck just isn’t doing it anymore. You make the decision to create a purchasing committee, but before you can start searching for the truck of your dreams, you’ll need to figure out what that truck looks like. With a limited budget, what should you keep in mind during your purchase process?

If you’re on the hunt for the right fire apparatus type, we’re here to help. Follow these tips to help you find the perfect apparatus for your team.

What should I consider while making an apparatus purchase?

Before you get started, you’ll need to make a list of the hard requirements for your apparatus. Think of it this way: if you built this truck from the ground up, what would you need to accomplish your day-to-day tasks? Once this is established, you can make a list of your wants. What would make your job easier? Is there anything that your department has been lacking? These wants are important, but understand that they may not be part of the final purchase due to budgetary boundaries or limited apparatus stock.

When you’re creating your list of needs, consider these factors:

  • Size. You don’t want to purchase an apparatus that you can’t fit into your station. What are your constraints in your department and in your area? Are there any clearances you’ll want to keep in mind?  
  • Function. What function does your department need the most? Are you needing to get more water to the scene of a fire, or do you need a better apparatus for rescue? Try to fill in the gaps when making a new purchase to avoid having to rebuy an apparatus in a few years.
  • Budget. Budget can be one of the biggest constraints for a department when looking for a new apparatus. If you’re having an issue keeping in line with the money allocated, you may consider getting a used apparatus to get more bang for your buck.
    • Depreciation and obsolescence. Any apparatus you buy will lose value over time due to damage to the truck and changes in technology. If you intend to resell the apparatus at some point, keep in mind how the sellback price will fluctuate.  
    • ISO rating. Your region is given an Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating that measures how qualified your department is to put out fires. It reflects on citizens by changing the price of their fire insurance depending on how safe the community is deemed. When you purchase a new apparatus, you have the opportunity to raise your ISO rating by adding a safer truck to your fleet.

What are my options?

As you begin searching for an apparatus, you’ll need to decide what type of apparatus is right for you. There are several fire apparatus types available for you to choose from:

  • Quint. A good choice for departments with a smaller budget, a quint can serve multiple functions in one apparatus. Named for their five functions, quints include a pump, hosebed, water tank, ground ladder and aerial ladder.
  • Foam & water tankers. Tankers can help you take care of strong fires by providing extra water or foam to the scene. If your department lacks immediate access to water, this apparatus can be a literal lifesaver.
  • Initial attack fire apparatus. When you need to get to the scene as quickly as possible, an initial attack fire apparatus can help. While they aren’t intended to fight a fire in the long-term, it helps diminish fires before they become too dangerous.
  • Aerial. For departments that have rescue needs or work in urban areas with more high-rise buildings, an aerial may be the ideal choice. There are multiple types of aerials you will have to choose from, including straight ladder and aerial platform.  

Is your department looking to buy a dependable used or new fire apparatus?

Contact Jon’s Mid America. We can help match you to the right apparatus within your department’s budget.

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