Fourth Quarter Orders Increase For Pre-2010 Apparatus

Many fire departments in need of new apparatus are placing their orders before the end of the year to avoid paying a higher price for trucks that must meet 2010 diesel emission standards.

Perhaps as a consequence, some apparatus manufacturers are reporting limited availability of pre-2010 engines.

Heavy-duty diesel engines built after Dec. 31 must comply with more stringent federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, requiring new technology that adds weight, complexity and cost to the trucks they power.

“With every technical change a bit of trepidation comes along with it,” said Phil Gerace, director of sales and marketing for KME Fire Apparatus in Nesquehoning, Pa. “We’re seeing an interest with customers nationwide of accelerating 
purchases to stay with the technology they’re familiar with. We’ve seen an increase in demand in the fourth quarter for apparatus purchases with 2007 emission engines, absolutely.”

Gerace noted that KME also is a dealer for several commercial truck brands and “is seeing those order boards increase dramatically, primarily by fleets and not so much by fire, in accelerating purchases to avoid price increases and newer technologies.”

Day-By-Day Availability

While Gerace said KME had a full supply of engines from Detroit Diesel, Cummins, Caterpillar and Navistar MaxxForce, he cautioned, “The way the market is, that may change. This is literally a day-by-day availability issue.”

Just three engine manufacturers are producing 2010 engines for fire trucks – Cummins, Navistar and Detroit Diesel. And Detroit Diesel is only making engines for Pierce Manufacturing through an exclusive agreement between the companies.

At Rosenbauer in Lyons, S.D., Chassis Specialist Paul Hentges said the company barely has enough engines to fill 2009 orders for fire trucks. “There’s a mad scramble right now [by apparatus makers] to try to pick up anything that’s left,” he said. “So manufacturers are buying stock units – chassis and engines – to hold onto them for as long as they can.”

As for specific cab and chassis makers, he said, “Spartan has pulled the plug on us, International is about done with 2007 emission engines, Kenworth closed the door last week and Freightliner is pretty much out of them too.”

Price Difference

Because Rosenbauer has contracts for fire trucks with Kenworth cabs and chassis with 2007 emission engines, Hentges said the company might have to try to renegotiate the contracts. Otherwise, he said, “We would have to eat the added cost of a 2010 emission engine.”

He pointed out that a significant dollar amount was added to fire trucks in the past few years –$10,000 to $20,000 per truck – because of the last EPA emission change in 2007 and modifications of National Fire Protection Association standards. 
For the 2010 emission changes, Hentges estimated the price difference would be an additional $20,000 to $30,000.

Mike Moore, director of strategic product development and support for Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton, Wis., said his company has seen a greater sense of urgency from fire departments in the market to buy trucks. However, he said Pierce was not having any difficulty in securing 2007 emission engines to complete orders.

“They are booking and putting in orders, and I think it will stay steady until the end of the year,” Moore said. “The departments buying trucks now are the ones able to do so financially, and many of them have that sense of urgency because they want pre-2010 engines.”

He said the demand might have been even greater for 2007 emission engines if the recession hadn’t had such a dramatic effect on municipal budgets.

“It’s a lot of work for a fire department and municipality to fund a purchase of that type,” Moore said. “Because of that, it’s difficult to tell how many additional orders for 2007 emission engine trucks will result.”

Peter Guile, chief executive officer of E-ONE in Ocala, Fla., said, “We have seen an industry preference for the 2007 engine, mainly for its lower cost versus 2010 engines, although there is limited availability, particularly of the smaller block engines.”

Bob Neitzel, vocational marketing manager for Navistar, said his company has not seen the uptick in engine orders that it anticipated with the looming EPA changes.

“We’re really not seeing anything out of the ordinary,” he said, “which is a surprise because I thought customers might step up and avoid the price increase if possible.”

He said EPA allows manufacturers to maintain an inventory of engines from the prior year in order to continue to build trucks for orders that are in place. He noted that 2007 emission engines must be completed by Dec. 31, but not necessarily installed in a vehicle.

A Reasonable Amount

“The EPA says you can keep a reasonable amount, which might be 10,000 for one company and 500 for another,” he said. “In many cases, the EPA might look at what a manufacturer produced in the prior year and determine that number is a reasonable amount.”

However, he said, “The reality for us is that we don’t stockpile because the difference in our 2007 and 2010 engines is superficial. There’s a different turbo on it, different calibration and a different computer, but we’re able to build the old and the new side by side.”

Rosenbauer’s Hentges believes that as more required changes are layered on engines and engine systems in fire trucks, fewer municipalities will be able to afford custom trucks.


“Adding to the $20,000 or more for this EPA engine change,” he said, “manufacturers will also get hit with the model year change for price increases on all the other materials that go into the truck. “

He estimated the model year increase will run between three and five percent this year.

“We will see some departments being priced out of the market for custom trucks,” Hentges said. “It might be on their wish list, but when they get the dollar figure back, the bean counters and people they answer to will tell them they can’t spend that kind of money on a truck, and they’ll have to slim it down. Where it’s going to stop, I hate to guess.”

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