As with any truck, machine, or equipment, with age and use, Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) vehicles require continuous service repairs and parts replacement. It’s just an operational fact. That’s even more prevalent when extending the useful service life of existing ARFF rigs in one’s airport ground support equipment fleet today. In particular, with potential long lead times for new replacement ARFF trucks and the commensurate higher pricing for the same, it is more and more practical (and required) to keep those frontline ARFF vehicles in a sound state of fleet readiness. Airport operations and airlines with their passengers count on it for safety and revenue!
Of course, to properly service ARFF trucks, with their unique components and systems (from chassis power dividers to water pumps and turrets), it takes well trained and skilled ARFF vehicle technicians to keep them fully operational with sound service. The nuances of their complex configurations and unique customizations make them challenging to service as compared to more conventional vehicles built on other typical commercial chassis (Ford, GMC, Hino, Isuzu, International, Freightliner, etc.) platforms. Further, having a substitute or reserve ARFF unit may not always be convenient or easy to backfill on short notice if an ARFF fleet asset must be taken out of service for a major repair.
Other complicating factors with service and parts for ARFF vehicles may include a mix or variety of different ARFF OEMs within a current airport fleet as well as periodic design changes or new products that occur within a given ARFF OEM over the years. Unlike passenger automobiles, trucks, and SUVs, there are not typically frequent model year changes; however, over a span of 5 to 10 years, it is not uncommon for an ARFF vehicle OEM to have a new or significantly modified core product. With the evolving generation of electrified ARFF vehicles, to note, this could be the next wave of significant product changes in the ARFF vehicle industry.
One particular area to focus is with sound after-market parts support on ARFF vehicles that may be greater than 7 to 10 years in age – or even older. Sometimes finding a parts source particularly for major components or systems on older ARFF vehicles may present unique challenges. Nothing can be more frustrating – if not worse – than not having a critical spare part or component to keep an ARFF vehicle in service. So, if not on hand within an airport fleet parts inventory, identifying a consistently reliable outside parts (including complete components) supplier for older model ARFF configurations is very important. This may even include fabricated parts for quick replacement such as body compartment doors, front or rear bumpers, etc. that may be damaged with untimely incidents.
Where can you turn? Fortunately, there are reputable suppliers to help provide both ARFF service and ARFF parts to meet special requirements of the industry. These providers include:
- Company Two in South Carolina: www.companytwofire.com
- Fire Trucks Unlimited in Nevada: www.firetrucksunlimited.com
- Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus in Alabama: www.firetruckmall.com
With multiple years of experience in the specialized ARFF vehicle industry, any of the above can be sources of trained service personnel for field support at a civilian airport or military airbase and/or specific ARFF parts that may be hard to find for traditional sources. Plus, in the unfortunate event wherein a temporary ARFF vehicle is needed while a fleet ARFF is out of service, these same companies have ARFF units for lease to provide coverage for an airport.