Apparatus, Chassis Components

Number of Engine Options for Fire Apparatus Shrinking

Issue 8 and Volume 18.

By Chris Mc Loone

In a way, recent news from Navistar makes specing engines for your next fire apparatus purchase simpler than ever. It was an unpublicized business decision that I only learned of by accident when I was visiting with an apparatus manufacturer recently. I asked if the company was receiving more specs with Navistar MaxxForce engines or Cummins engines. The representative replied that Navistar just announced it was exiting the loose engine business. So with that answer, it’s obvious that it doesn’t matter what the split is between the two companies-your only engine option if you choose to buy a custom fire truck is Cummins if you don’t choose Pierce. Because, almost concurrently with Navistar’s announcement, Pierce released that it has extended its agreement with Detroit through 2018. Through 2018, the Detroit DD13 engine remains available only on Pierce’s complete line of custom fire and emergency vehicles.

The Navistar news surprised me. It’s not like the company is just getting out of loose engine sales for fire apparatus. The company is no longer selling loose engines at all, choosing to install the engines on the commercial chassis it produces. So technically if a fire department really prefers MaxxForce engines, it can still get them by specing commercial chassis for its apparatus. It will lose the cab customization options but will get the engine it wants.

But to me, Navistar was making a lot of noise in the fire apparatus market. Judging from a number of recent deliveries in our Apparatus Showcase and orders in our Recent Orders section, it was starting to make some inroads. I don’t think there are many among us that wouldn’t rather have more choices than fewer regarding our fire trucks. So, ultimately, the fire apparatus market is the casualty of a bigger business decision.

That is not to say that the news is bad that Cummins is now set to gain a greater market share in the fire apparatus arena. The company was proud to announce its 2013 line of engines at the 2013 Fire Department Instructors Conference, and, as you’ll see in this issue’s “Fire Industry Today,” Cummins is also very active in working toward a solution to comply with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Direct Final Rule regarding how engines respond to neglected regenerations.

All this said, I’m a little disappointed that there aren’t more choices. I wouldn’t mind seeing Mack get back into the act and start selling engines to the fire service without having to purchase a Mack cab and chassis-or maybe Ford. I think choice and competition are good for the market. Of course, fire apparatus make up such a small part of the overall market for these engine manufacturers that it’s unlikely we’ll see that sort of change from Mack or Ford.

Tanker Rollovers

With the hopes of avoiding tanker rollovers, the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) has produced a new version of the Cargo Tank Rollover Prevention Video it developed with the United States Department of Transportation to help educate water tanker drivers on the special characteristics of tank truck vehicles and the actions they can take to avoid rollovers. The video can be viewed at www.tankertruck.org, where it can also be downloaded.

Tragedy Strikes

As I write this, the fire service is reeling from the largest loss of life at a fire since September 11, 2001. We lost 19 firefighters to the Yarnell, Arizona, wildfire. Nineteen firefighters losing their lives at one time boggles the mind. Exact details have been scarce; however, multiple news outlets report that conditions deteriorated to the point that these members of the elite “Hot Shots” firefighting group had to deploy their fire shelters. It is a sobering reminder that although we write constantly in these pages and online about how far we have come with apparatus and equipment advancements, there is only so much our equipment can do to protect us. Our thoughts are with the Prescott (AZ) Fire Department for which the 19 firefighters worked.