Workhorse Fire Apparatus

Justifications for Wildland Apparatus in Budgets

“How many lives, houses or businesses need to be lost before this budget will be justified? 
Will it be too late?”

Lately it seems, when fire departments or protection districts ask for budgets which include a new brush truck, skid unit or quick attack apparatus, municipal bodies responsible for oversight of the budget want to say, “no”.  They don’t seem to remember that of all the departments that the municipality has – fire is one of the only departments where people put their lives on the line every call.  And while sure, you might only have 1 or 2 fires a year in a rural area, but how many calls for rescue, medical assistance or other services does a department receive?  And how much loss must a family or community experience to justify the potential need?

To combat these arguments I’ve been asked by numerous fire chiefs and heads of fire protection services to offer brush / quick-attack apparatus budget justification.

The best answers I can provide are:

1)     Speed.  The first question anyone asks a firefighter when arriving on scene is “What took you so long to get here?”  A brush truck is the fastest attacking, most agile fire apparatus on the market. 

2)     Control.  The larger, more uncontrolled a fire gets, the longer it is going to take to suppress.  It gets hotter, it spreads and grows, it eats up more land or structure.  The more quickly suppression efforts start, the less the fire can grow.  It prevents losses in time, suppression costs, property loss, recovery and stress on firefighters and operational costs. 

3)     Versatility.  Wildland Apparatus in most cases are built as multi-purpose vehicles.  They tow trailers, they fight fires, they respond to auto accidents and so much more.  In the Midwest, these apparatus are being outfitted with arrow sticks and other traffic-directing capability so that they can save lives by quickly arriving to a scene and providing adequate warning for other motorists who might otherwise become involved in an accident.  Skid units can be removed to put other equipment in place during off-season for brush fires.

4)     Agility.  The brush apparatus in your department or agency’s garage most-likely goes places none of your other apparatus are able to.  If you have a boat for ice rescue it’s no different.  These apparatus have the capability to go great distances in terrain to combat fire, extricate, rescue and save people’s lives that no other apparatus can.

5)     Power.  Pound-for-pound these apparatus offer more horsepower and torque than any other apparatus in most fleets.  This allows them to work harder, faster and longer than other apparatus in most fleets.

6)     Endurance.  Built to last, brush trucks outlast most other apparatus in a department.  Most frequently they are replaced due to changing safety standards / advances in technologies for safety.

7)     Cost Effective.  Operationally, these are the CHEAPEST apparatus (other than rescue boats) to purchase, operate, maintain and upgrade.  The training required is minimal.  There is no CDL requirement.

QUESTIONS TO ASK

“If this budget/apparatus helps to save one life over the next ten years, is it worth consideration?”

“If the safety of this vehicle prevents the department from having one firefighter injury over the next ten years, is it worth it?  Will the department pay more in disability than the cost of the apparatus to prevent that injury from occurring?”

 “If this apparatus saves the department operating costs by running more efficiently, is it justifiable in the long-run?”

“If the sound of a siren is heard one to three minutes sooner than normal and a person holds onto life knowing help is on the way, does that justify the cost?”

“If a firefighter is willing to put his/her life on the line each and every time they respond to a call, shouldn’t we have apparatus that provide them with the best chance of coming home to their loved ones?”

 “If your home is on fire tonight, if your loved one is in a car accident, if your life is threatened and you dial 9-1-1 tonight, would your vote for this apparatus/budget change tomorrow?”

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