Kern County, Cal., orders $7.5 million of Pierce fire trucks to upgrade fleet.
The trucks will replace older fire fighting vehicles in the fleet of this California department that serves an 8,000-square-mile area, including a large portion of the fertile San Joaquin Valley, the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and part of the Mojave Desert.
Kern County Fire is implementing a 20-year replacement program and plans to purchase about four trucks each year after this initial order. The contract can be extended for seven years, with the base price for vehicles linked to the consumer price index in Kern County and one other location. Delivery of the first of the 28 vehicles will begin in December.
"We were looking for a marriage with a reputable manufacturer that could deliver trucks built to last," says Chief Dan Clark of Kern County Fire.
Kern County Fire will eventually replace all of their 81 fire trucks, only one of which was made by a manufacturer which is still in business. That one vehicle was built by Pierce. Several years ago, the department started a replacement plan to buy new trucks each year. But, budget constraints prevented implementing it until recently when the Board of Supervisors approved spending bond money for an initial purchase of 28 apparatus. This action allows Kern County Fire to replace all of their trucks that are 18 years old or older. Several of these trucks were in need of considerable repairs.
"By this time, we didn't need mechanics; we needed magicians," notes Clark.
Kern County developed specifications for their new trucks after many hours of research by the entire department including mechanics, fire fighters, drivers, and management. The department scrutinized countless factors and consulted with 13 other departments.
The department was looking for specific benefits according to Deputy Chief Cary Eckard. First, it wanted to incorporate apparatus features that were needed to address the unique hazards and risks in Kern County. Second, the department wanted to buy trucks that would deliver at least 20 years of service. And finally, the department felt it was important to give the manufacturer the flexibility to build vehicles with standard features to reduce the cost for the department.
When Kern County began evaluating which companies would qualify to bid on the trucks, it was looking for a single-source supplier that could build all of the apparatus.
"The manufacturer had to be able to build all types of our trucks from bumper to bumper. We wanted a supplier that was committed to the fire service, not a company that builds fire trucks as a side line. Plus, we wanted to benefit from a multiple-unit discount. That's why we entertained bids from Pierce, Emergency One and KME only," said Clark.
Once the field was narrowed to single-source suppliers, an executive committee from Kern County Fire visited each manufacturer's production facilities.
"I was looking for attention to detail in the manufacturing process because that translates to savings during the life of the rig. For example, I looked at the welds that are hidden after final assembly. At Pierce, I was impressed that management stressed attention to detail and you could tell that these people were building trucks with pride. That really hit home with me, because it's the same approach we take to serving our customers," Clark explained.
The bid price was an important factor in the department's decision, but it wasn't the only one. Parts support and low life cycle costs figured high on the list of priorities. The department has a constant staffing plan for each of their 46 stations and personnel move around among those stations.
"We wanted our people to jump into the cock pit and find the same toggle switch in the same spot, regardless of which station they're working at," Eckard said.
According to Nick Russo and Kevin Newell of South Coast Fire Equipment, the company will train crews from each of the stations during the delivery of the 28 trucks to ensure operators are familiar with the new trucks. South Coast is the Pierce sales and service representative for southern California.
Kern County Fire evaluated reliability and serviceability by talking with 13 other departments.
"If you really want to know which trucks to buy, it's important to talk to other users. They're honest about their problems with each brand," said Eckard. "What we heard time and again about Pierce was that you never see one in the shop, except for their yearly maintenance check."
The department wanted to increase the components their vehicles have in common to simplify training and lower maintenance time and costs. All of the vehicles will be equipped with Waterous water pumps, and all of the custom chassis drive trains consist of Detroit Diesel engines and Allison transmissions. Included in this contract are:
- Thirteen Saber pumpers with 750-gallon water tank
capacities. Each is powered by a 330-horsepower Detroit
Diesel Series 40 engine and features an Allison MD-3060PR
five-speed automatic transmission with output retarder. The
two-stage Waterous pump is rated at 1250 gallons per minute
- Nine Dash pumpers with 750-gallon water tank capacities.
These pumpers feature Detroit Diesel Series 60 engines with
430 horsepower. The fire department wanted grade-climbing
ability, that the higher horsepower delivers, to handle the
steep terrain in their jurisdiction. An Allison HD-4060
five-speed automatic transmission is standard, and the
Waterous water pump has a 1250 gpm capacity.
- Five wildland pumpers on a Navistar brand 4800 chassis to
respond to urban interface calls in the state-responsibility
areas covered by the department.
- One 75-foot heavy-duty ladder on a Dash chassis with a
300-gallon water tank.
Kern County Fire has 46 fire stations and employs more than 500 people. The department provides fire protection for all of Kern County, which is the third largest county in California
Pierce Manufacturing Inc. is the leading manufacturer of custom fire apparatus in the United States. Products include custom and commercial pumpers, aerial units, rescue trucks, mini-pumpers and elliptical tankers.
CONTACT: Oshkosh Truck Corporation
Financial - Charlie Szews, 414/235-9150
Pierce Manufacturing Inc.
Media - Kirsten Skyba, 414/832-3155
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|Date:||May 21, 1997|
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