Breathing New Life - and Extended Service - into Your Fire Apparatus

Posted by Billy Claunch, on April 25, 2023

After years of service, you’re now contemplating what to do with your existing fire apparatus.  It has “great bones” in terms of the chassis frame and powertrain (engine, transmission, and axles); however, time and use have started taking somewhat of a toll.  Thankfully, there are practical and cost-effective service life extension programs available that can deliver several more years of duty for your fire department, community, and even help your municipal budget.


While your fire apparatus’ age (from date of original manufacture) is one metric, perhaps even more meaningful are the number of primary engine and water pump hours as well as mileage on the vehicle.  Equally important is the maintenance and service record with the rig over the years it’s been in your fleet.  Following the apparatus OEMs minimum suggested preventative maintenance as well as other sound measures with proper service really help set the pace for extended life.  Just like a car, truck, SUV, tractor, and other machinery, sound maintenance and repairs make all the difference in the condition of your fire apparatus as it is inevitably pursued by father time.


Assuming your rig is in good condition in spite of its age, what can be done to add even more useful years of service to it?  Some key components may possibly need to be remanufactured or rebuilt.  For example, the primary fire pump and any associated gearbox, could be one potential area to investigate.  The same could even apply to various valves in the plumbing of the fire fighting system.  Sometimes, gauges on the pump panel need some “TLC” and those are readily replaced or updated with new ones.   If the truck has an older monitor and nozzle, now may be the time to replace that key element of your apparatus too.


Other fundamental chassis systems can be serviced and replaced including tires/wheels; brakes; shocks; batteries; electrical connections; etc.  This may also include updating all lighting to the latest in LED technology to reduce the total amp draw as well as give the rig a more modern appearance.  In terms of exterior trim, even just adding new wheel covers could also be an idea to consider.


If the cab interior seating has been heavily used, these can be updated accordingly from various preferred seating OEM product lines.  Upholstery finishes with other cab interior paneling (on the engine “dog house” and walls) can be replaced too.  Plus other updates could include adding a cab air purification system or adding cab interior storage such as for EMS equipment as your mission has evolved to serve your citizens.  If you need to explore modifying an extended front bumper to house different tools and/or hose, that may also be an opportunity to consider.


On the fire apparatus body, with new equipment or tools in your inventory, modifying your interior compartment storage systems with brackets, shelves and trays as well as appropriate protective matting or interior compartment finishes could be an area of refurbishment to explore as well.  If in disrepair, compartment door handles, latches, and systems can be replaced.  The compartment lighting could also be an area for upgrading to LED lighting.  Replacing any existing vinyl hose bed covers can readily be done.  Sometimes replacing or adding steps for improved access can be another possibility.  Of course, be it the apparatus body and/or cab, a new paint finish and graphics is also very feasible to restore the exterior aesthetics of your rig.  


In the end, there are a wide variety of options and what is ultimately done can be a function of:

  1. The total budget available; 

  2. The current operating condition of the given fire apparatus; and 

  3. Any new functionality required to make the vehicle perform today as needed.

Who in the fire apparatus industry can do this refurbishment work for you?  There are various options including Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus (www.firetruckmall.com) in Alabama and Fire Trucks Unlimited (https://www.firetrucksunlimited.com/) in Nevada.  As with anything, you will want to check their track record with doing this type of work; their facilities and equipment; and of course, their staff or personnel credentials (in terms of training, certifications, etc.)

Before you give in or give up on the fire apparatus that has already served you well, take a fresh look at what can be done to add more use life and service with lower cost to keep you going for several more years to come.


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