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Lake Travis Fire Rescue begins fleet overhaul

Posted: Fri, 6 May 2016 08:36 AM - 8,091 Readers

By: Robert Abbott

The district has developed a mixed approach for maintaining the fleet, which includes refurbishment, purchasing newly built demo units and new trucks. This approach is estimated to save the district about $4 million or more over the next eight years.

One of the most iconic images of public safety is that of a fire truck. Fire truck design has come a long way since the days when horses were used to transport firefighters and equipment to the fire scene by pulling a buggy. Just as the features of new fire trucks have evolved, so have the price tags.

In today’s U.S. market, a quality fire truck will run between $500,000 to $800,000. If we are talking about a specialized truck like a ladder truck, the price is between $800,000 and $1.5 million per unit. Obviously, the price depends on the make, model and features that are ordered, but changes in national safety regulations also have driven up the cost of fire apparatus.

In an effort to reduce fleet operating costs and extend the service life of our most valued piece of equipment, Lake Travis Fire Rescue has begun refurbishing its existing fleet by taking advantage of updated national standards that provide parameters for apparatus service life extension. This move forward is anticipated to extend the service life by eight to 10 years per unit. LTFR plans to refurbish four engines and one ladder truck within the next two years. When recently purchased fire apparatus hit the 10- to 12-year service mark, they will be sent out for refurbishment, provided they each meet the criteria.

Lake Travis Fire Rescue begins fleet overhaul photo

The apparatus refurbishment process can have a cost savings of 60 percent compared to buying a new fire apparatus. Not all vehicles can be refurbished, but since the district has purchased and maintained a quality fleet, all of our existing front-line and reserve units meet the minimum criteria for a full refurbishment.

But like many things in life, everything must come to an end. After 25 years of service, all fire apparatus must be retired for good. The district has developed a mixed approach for maintaining the fleet, which includes refurbishment, purchasing newly built demo units and new trucks. This approach is estimated to save the district about $4 million or more over the next eight years.

The new approach to how we operate our fleet program did not occur in just one staff meeting. It took a number of groups meeting together to fully understand the associated challenges that exist with making a significant change in our practice and apparatus replacement schedule. The Lake Travis Fire Rescue fleet committee met to discuss refurbishment criteria and how the new safety standards could be applied to our fleet, while the executive team met with subject matter experts like Jerry Schmeil, a retired Caterpillar executive and Lake Travis Fire Rescue Citizen’s Advisory Committee member.

Schmeil helped the team assess fleet operating costs in a new manner, highlighting major savings and vehicle operating costs. Members of the LTCAC also provided feedback to the district’s board of commissioners with ideas on how the new approach could be communicated to the public and what long-term benefits the community could enjoy from its investment.

After a competitive bid process, Firetrucks Unlimited was awarded the contract for two fire engine refurbishments totaling just less than $480,000. FTU is the largest military contractor for fire apparatus refurbishment. Based out of Henderson, Nevada, FTU met with LTFR members to ensure FTU understood the repair and maintenance history of each unit and provided feedback to the team to better prepare other units for future overhauls.

This year, our fleet will see the refurbishment of two fire engines, the design and purchase of one new ladder truck and the deployment of Brush Truck 602. If you would like to track the progress of Engine 601’s overhaul, visit Click the photo tab, then “Work in Process,” and you’ll find Engine 601 will be listed as 1445 Lake Travis Fire Rescue. Photos are updated every one to two weeks with the most recent uploads starting on the first page.

Robert Abbott is the Lake Travis Fire Rescue chief.

*  Story Contributed by: Robert Abbott


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