Freightliner Trucks

Three Trucks For The Price Of Two: Just What The Minneapolis Fire Department Needed

Business Class<sup>®</sup> M2 112 line-up.

The City of Minneapolis’ Fire Department’s new Business Class® M2 112 line-up.

In today’s economy, we’re all looking for the best values within our budgets. And that’s especially true of public agencies, where taxpayers sometimes second guess decisions. So, when the Minneapolis Fire Department was faced with replacing six aging fire trucks on a limited budget, representatives of the fire department, equipment manufacturer and upfitter Rosenbauer America, Freightliner truck dealer I-State Truck Center, and Freightliner Trucks put their heads together to make it work.

“A couple of years ago,” said Al Thunberg, fleet manager for the City of Minneapolis, “we started talking about replacing six pumper trucks...and trying to figure out how to get what we needed for less money.” The department couldn’t afford the custom chassis it had been buying for the past ten or 12 years, but wasn’t sure Freightliner’s commercial chassis could meet the total needs of the fire department.

We got three trucks today for the price we paid for two about ten years ago.

David Dewall, assistant fire chief, Minneapolis Fire Department

Business Class<sup>®</sup> M2 112 line-up.

Business Class® M2 112 fire truck cab interior

That and any other concerns were answered by the team’s commitment to working together to find solutions, and the results were impressive. In August, the fire department took delivery of three of six new Freightliner Business Class® M2 112 chassis with Detroit DD13® engines, roomy crew cabs, upgraded brakes and Allison 4000 transmissions.

“These are good solid trucks that are exactly what we need,” said David Dewall, assistant fire chief. And the bottom line? “We got three trucks today for the price we paid for two about ten years ago.” Because Minneapolis chose smaller, commercial chassis, they got more truck for the money, along with good visibility and drivability.

Dewall noted the drivers were particularly impressed with the enhanced stability control (ESC) system on the new pumper trucks. Combining roll stability control with directional stability, ESC reduces the steering effort typically required to correct skids, slows the vehicle to prevent potential rollovers and decreases the risk of veering off curves or uneven roads — particularly beneficial to emergency response vehicles operating at fast speeds on sharp corners in tight urban conditions.

Todd McBride, Rosenbauer apparatus specialist said: “These are work trucks, and they can take a beating.” The Minneapolis trucks have the heaviest duty body Rosenbauer builds and the heaviest duty body in the fire industry but still had room to spare, using only 35,000 of a possible 42,000 GVW which will help the truck hold up better over its life cycle.

Minnesota winters are notoriously tough on vehicles, and the city uses corrosive chemicals to melt snow and ice. The steel-reinforced aluminum cab has been coated with a durable finish that resists corrosion over a long period of time. (See E-coat article also in this issue.) While the trucks’ heavy-duty Rosenbauer’s Sterling stainless steel body delivers better than average corrosion resistance and higher mechanical strength which allows them to be used in more aggressive service conditions.

These engines are assigned to high demand stations, with 1,000-1,500 calls a year. In a fleet of 24 pumper trucks and one tractor-drawn aerial on a custom chassis, the Minneapolis Fire Department has six other Freightliner trucks, which it’s used for 13-15 years. The department typically replaces trucks every 15-18 years.

With commercial chassis, parts are readily available, maintenance staff is familiar with the vehicles, and downtime is minimized if repairs are needed.

Al Thunberg, fleet manager, City of Minneapolis

The city’s public works fleet includes several other Freightliner trucks, as well, and Thunberg recognizes the obvious benefits of standardizing. “With commercial chassis, parts are readily available, maintenance staff is familiar with the vehicles, and downtime is minimized if repairs are needed, and that’s important when even a minor accident could keep a crucial vehicle in the shop and off the street,” he noted.

Dewall says his firefighters are happy with the crew cab’s overall size and height, and a seating arrangement that puts the entire crew into close quarters, riding forward for easier communication. There’s significantly more room to get in and out, and a console system to store helmets en route.

The rigs have Detroit DD13 engines, 1,500 gallon per minute Waterous pumps and 500-gallon water tanks. The pump compartment has a 35,000 BTU pump heater to keep pressure gauges and other pump components from freezing. Rosenbauer customized the hose storage for Minneapolis by bringing the floor of the hose bed within 50 inches of ground level. For the department, this means firefighters don’t have to climb up on trucks to load and unload the 2,200 feet of hose carried on each vehicle, a considerable safety advantage given the treacherous winters that Minneapolis faces. Additionally, the trucks are using an all-LED lighting package which allowed the department to eliminate the hydraulic generator, saving the department approximately $15,000.

What both Thunberg and Dewall appreciate most, of course, is the total cost in comparison to previous pumpers. The city got three commercial Freightliner M2 112 chassis upfit as pumper trucks for $1 million, six for $2 million. Previously, two custom pumpers cost the city $1 million.

“We saved money, but we did not skimp,” said Dewall. “We got what we needed. The vehicles are well thought out. We struck the right balance between features, performance and cost.”

Among the many people who were critical to the success of the project were the City of Minneapolis Spec Team led by Al Thunberg, fleet manager, City of Minneapolis; and David Dewall, assistant fire chief, Minneapolis Fire Department; Todd McBride, apparatus specialist for bodybuilder, Rosenbauer America, Minnesota division, Wyoming, Minn.; Steve Harris, dealership president for Rosenbauer America’s General Safety Fire Apparatus, Centerville, Minn; Steve London, municipal sales, at Freightliner dealer I-State Truck Center, Inver Grove Heights, Minn.; and Russ Nielsen, Freightliner Trucks vocational sales manager.

Also of Interest:

Preparing For A Truck Purchase
How to help your dealer help you when you’re shopping for a truck.

Alliance Truck Parts Introduces Heavy-Duty EZ-Assist Clutch
2050 torque-rated clutch fills severe duty need for heavy haulers.

Maintenance Tips to Prevent Downtime
Tips on properly maintaining work trucks to avoid expensive repairs and preserve profit margins.

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