February Roundtable: Leasing Fire Apparatus

By John “Skip” Coleman

The fire service is evolving at an electric pace. Things that were unheard of a few years ago are now taking place. 

When my father came on the job in 1952, the police did EMS work. To be sure, the fire department was called when a building collapsed or a train hit a car, but the police responded to an ill-person call. I don’t have to tell you where Toledo is today as it relates to EMS. Like most of you, we are up to our eye-balls in EMS.

This month’s roundtable isn’t about EMS, but rather concerns perhaps the third-largest expense to a fire department. First is staffing. Second is buildings, namely the cost of a fire station. The third are apparatus costs. 

I remember year after year fighting at budget time for new apparatus. In a city doing 50,000 runs out of 17 stations, we generally ran the heck out of an engine. The city council would choke when they saw lines in the budget about four apparatus that would exceed $2,000,000. You can imagine the types of questions that would come from the ill-informed council members. 

Before I retired, we began looking into leasing fire apparatus. Perhaps one of my brothers or sisters from Toledo can chime in as to whether they did end up leasing and, if so, how it’s working out for them. 

That brings me to this month’s question: Does your department lease apparatus and, if not, has that option been considered?

CLICK HERE to e-mail us your reply. Please keep your response to 250 words and include your name, rank, department, city, and state.. Replies are due by February 25 and will be published in a subsequent article later this month.

John “Skip” Coleman retired as assistant chief from the Toledo (OH) Department of Fire and Rescue. He is a technical editor of Fire Engineering; a member of the FDIC Educational Advisory Board; and author of Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer (Fire Engineering, 1997), Managing Major Fires (Fire Engineering, 2000), and Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer, Second Edition (Fire Engineering, 2008).

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