Monday, November 21, 2011

If We Bought Our Personal Cars Like We Buy Fire Apparatus...

I have mentioned previously the excessive interlocks and safeties increasing the now astronomical cost of fire apparatus. This, however, is only part of the problem. In the other portion, we are our own worst enemy.

A military term for it is gold plating. Disingenuously, we call it meeting our needs. Custom hose bed arrangements, specialized compartments, light packages rivaling the Radio City Christmas tree, and that is before we get to pumps and tanks. “Custom” engines costing in the $400,000 range are unsustainable for all but a very few departments.

This picture makes me think about what it would be like if we purchased our personal cars using the same methods we use for fire apparatus. The typical sedan, SUV, or pick-up has three levels; a basic, intermediate, and luxury level. Each step up seems to add a half dozen options, but it’s not an ala carte menu. As bad as new car costs are, I can see what would happen…..

Chief B enters the local Ford dealership.
“I’d like to spec out one of those new Taurus’s you have,” the Chief says.

“Great Chief, step right over to my desk.”

“I like your base model, but I need a special trunk, as I only load my suitcases one way.”

“Can do, Chief.”

“Also, I need four head lights instead of two, and these special brake lights. The hazard flashers will have to be moved because of the special trunk.”

“No problem, Chief.”

“The sun roof needs to double in size. I like lots of upward visibility.”

“That will entail special reinforcement and a re-design of the roof, but I’m sure our engineers are up to the challenge.”

“Great, then I’m sure the fifty gallon windshield washer reservoir won’t be a problem for them.”

“We’ll make it work, Chief.”

“Okay, then, how much do you think my new Taurus will run?”

“We should be able to do that for around $350K and have it to you in 18 months...”

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