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What Are Your Opinions On Spartan ER Apparatus?

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  • What Are Your Opinions On Spartan ER Apparatus?

    Our department has used Spartan chassis since 2008 with a total of 4 chassis currently in the fleet. I believe it was 2011 that Spartan eliminated Crimson Fire and created Spartan ERV which became Spartan ER. Since E-One was merged into the REV group one of our area reps has became a dealer for Spartan ER.

    I have seen Spartan ERV/ER apparatus at FDIC a couple times but never really gave them a hard look because we didn't have a dealer in the area. Over the years I have checked out their website and some of their products in the same manner I have checked out other builders nationally in an effort to remain somewhat informed in the apparatus industry. As with all manufacturers there are things that intrigue me.

    Since I have no first hand knowledge about Spartan ER apparatus I was hoping to hear from those that have operated them. What do you think about the quality? What do you think about their service after the sale? Are they willing to build trucks that aren't "cookie cutter" trucks? What do you like about the apparatus? What don't you like about them? Every department can have a different process for specifying an apparatus. I'm not interested in how the Chief or apparatus purchasing committee screwed up in your opinion. I'm interested in how the apparatus works based upon how it was designed.

    Thank you for your time and views,
    Walt
    Train like you want to fight.
    www.kvfd.net

  • #2
    Walt,
    We made the switch in 2015 and developed our own spec. Spartan ERV met the requirements and were very accommodating to some of our customization needs. It was our first Spartan Chassis, so we visited many departments and inquired about service, maintenance, factory support, and design improvements they had with them. Our "Rescue-style" Engine is unique in that we also wanted a low hose bed, HD interior with no plastic, and storage for all the rescue equipment. We also added hydraulic tools to the front bumper and Spartan ERV designed a platform that met our tool selection and was visually appealing to the apparatus. Prior to that we were 100% Pierce from 1987-2014, so outside interest was limited.
    Our negatives were a lengthy build time over a year, however it necessarily wasn't because of Spartan ERV, it was we forgot to put a maximum build clause in our specification. Other priority trucks with those clauses got built before ours. You live and learn.
    I personally am OK with the fit and finish as its a fire apparatus, not a Cadillac, but it sure rides like one.

    We are very happy with their product. Spartan ERV has exceeded our design requirements and expectations. In fact we took delivery of another Spartan ERV in 2017, same design except minus the tools in the bumper and a 12" shorter body based on the success of the 2015 model. We specified a rugged air ride suspension package that could minimize shop down time using locally available over the road truck parts. Reyco Granning IFS with Hendrickson air ride rear. Our down time went from 3 days out of service to replace broken springs at $4,000 to 2 hours for a $200 air bag. Our roads are crappy and bad shape with delayed upgrades because of our economy. We foresaw this and designed accordingly. Service after the sale has been good too. Most of our issues are small components like sensors and occasional software upgrades. Our service center is about 1 hour away. They come over in a van and work with our fleet mechanics to get it fixed. Both Engines are under warranty currently. I feel they build a great product and performs as designed.

    Thanks,
    Chad

    Comment


    • #3
      Chad, that's they type of stuff I'm looking for.

      Most builders are around a year from order to delivery but if you didn't have a delivery time frame or penalty clause I can see where you got caught. Bill Adams writes some really good articles about how to spec apparatus and also wrote a book about it. If you don't buy the book at least get caught up on his articles, lots of good information in them. I know SpartanER does a 180 day plan for a basic truck with limited options. If you control chassis production that is an option because the chassis usually takes awhile to come in if you don't use one from the builder. I'm also a little leery of those with real short build times. Are they short of work and if so, why? Sometimes you just luck out though.

      You commented about the spring repairs. How close is the 2015 to the max GVWR? We broke leaf springs on an engine once but it was at the GVWR and built by someone that was out of their depth. Got that engine shortly after I got on the department and there were quite a few things I personally learned that have helped us to get better apparatus. When you get to specing out another apparatus look at the fire apparatus manufacturers association website. They have a weight and cube calculator that helps you determine how much weight you will actually be putting on the apparatus. It helps if you have someone familiar with Excel but it list everything right down to specific hand tools. We now use that to estimate how much weight we plan on putting on there right away and then request axles and components for a GVWR 4,000 pounds minimum over that. You want it loaded evenly, balanced and not underweight because that will cause problems as well. Of course, like many of us, apparatus gain weight over the years and it's amazing how much they can gain in 30 years.

      On the 2015 engine, how long is that front bumper extension? It looks to be more than 24".

      Noticed you have three cross lays over the pump panel, two driver side discharges, probably a deck gun connection, one discharge off the rear and an LDH discharge on the officer side. What kind of preconnects and hose complements do you run off that engine? Always interesting to see how everyone works.

      Thanks for the information,
      Walt
      Train like you want to fight.
      www.kvfd.net

      Comment


      • #4
        Walt,
        The 2015 engine has a 20,000 lbs front axle and I believe a 24,000 lb. rear. I'll check tomorrow morning. We also wanted 17.5" disk brakes all around on it. Our spring repairs forecast came from our old units which for awhile were down quite a bit. We put in a lot of homework into the running gear and bones of the apparatus. The 2015 has had a bad bag caused by a pin hole, slow leak. It was fixed in 2 hours and we were back on the road in no time. Totally agree we you on weight gain over the service life on the apparatus.
        Our front bumper is about 28" We specified lighted bumper poles to help the driver spot the front because of this. This has worked out well for the trade off of tools in the bumper.
        The 3 cross-lays above pump are all 200' triple-layers. (2)- 1-3/4" and (1) 2-1/2". (We can pull them from either side) The Deck-gun is located above pump close to the drivers pump panel. It has extend-gun riser and a ball valve attached for minimum man operation.
        The rear (left to right) has 600' of 2-1/2" with a Smooth bore & Chicago load 150' of 1-3/4" hose bundle attached. 650' of 5" LDH The 1st section is 50', everything else is 100' sections. 600' of 3" hose with a Wye.

        Thanks,
        Chad

        Comment


        • #5
          My career department has a number of them...pumpers, trucks, towers and rescues with more pumpers currently on order. I drive a 2013 model 103' dry truck with the Reyco IFS and the ride quality is good (removing the conditions of our streets from the equation). The dealer in our area is responsive and tries very hard to keep them in service. As for overall the interior is nothing spectacular but functional. The aerial is not my favorite given our previous rigs but it gets the job done. Fit and finish isn't as good as others but not bad. Overall I cant really complain about them. If I could change one thing it would be the overall size of the rig as it is a beast but that isn't a Spartan problem.

          Comment


          • #6
            68 truck,

            Thanks for the info. The air ride makes a huge difference. So does disc brakes. Both cost a little more but something that I think is easily justified as safety items. The truck rides smoother which eliminates potential of something breaking while driving or the operator losing control due to a rough ride, both can have devastating effects. The operator should never get to the point that the truck is bouncing so bad that control is an issue but accidents and surprises happen. The disc brakes stop the truck so much better and are possibly cheaper to maintain throughout the life span of the truck.

            Thanks again,
            Walt
            Train like you want to fight.
            www.kvfd.net

            Comment


            • #7
              Here is what I know, and keep in mind I sell for a competitor who used to sell on Spartan chassis. Compare the chassis, safety test results to others. For instance the cab crush test on a Spartan ia about 65,000 lbs, about half of others. Test the ride. When doing demos with Spartan, you were always chasing the steering whee. Not with our line, can't address the others. The body used to be Crimson, so basically the same people building the same body. Draw your own conclusions from that. Always a lower price option in my area. Crimson was famous for electrical issues.

              Comment


              • #8
                old fart FF,

                Thanks for that info. Sorry it took me so long to reply. Where can someone find the safety test results? I've heard manufactures brag their chassis up and want to find the hard facts.

                Thanks,
                Walt
                Train like you want to fight.
                www.kvfd.net

                Comment


                • #9
                  In my large career department a common problem has developed where multiple pumpers (6-7) have had the shock mounts fracture and in some cases take out the gear box. These are all IFS air-ride equipped rigs. Just thought I would throw it out there.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    With respect to the issue with IFS problem it was to do with the Bilstein shock used and Spartan switched to Koni brand and changed out at N/C to all the FD's that had issues.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the input. Any other thoughts on them?

                      We are planning to put an engine out to bid after 1 October and they'll be one we look at. One of the guys also contacted all the potential builders we're looking at and requested demo's be brought to the department. He told the Spartan ER/Smeal rep that we'll park that engine right next to our last Smeal to compare them side by side.

                      Thanks again,
                      Walt
                      Train like you want to fight.
                      www.kvfd.net

                      Comment

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