By Author(s): Bob Vaccaro 
Published Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Although U.S. apparatus manufacturers have seen a 30–40% decrease in domestic sales recently, fire and emergency vehicle sales to foreign countries have increased significantly over the past year and will continue to do so until at least 2014—good news for some manufacturers that have experienced some layoffs in the past year.
Most European, Asian and Middle Eastern countries have traditionally purchased fire apparatus primarily from England, Germany and Austria; however, in recent years, they have been purchasing more and more American-built apparatus. Some have even gone away from some of the specialized European-type specs that they’ve used for years.
Following is some international sales news from several manufacturers:
Oshkosh and Pierce delivered more than 100 Pierce emergency vehicles and airport trucks to China in the past year and a half. Pierce’s custom fire vehicles sold included high-rise pumpers, aerial ladders and industrial pumpers, which will be deployed in various provinces all over China. Additionally, Oshkosh has delivered Striker aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles (ARFF) as well snow-removal equipment.
It doesn’t surprise me that China is buying a great deal of fire apparatus from the United States, including ARFF vehicles. Their economic and industrial growth has been unbelievable in the past 10 years or so. And yes, we’ve all heard stories of China buying up all the steel, driving up steel prices for a great deal of products, including fire apparatus, trucks and building materials. It’s also rumored that China is building more than 100 airports around the country—hence the purchase of ARFF vehicles.
Crimson Fire was awarded a multiple-year contract to build and deliver custom fire apparatus for use by multiple fire departments throughout the country of Chile. According to Crimson’s website, the Bomberos de Chile has authorized the production of five vehicles currently, and could purchase as many as 30 units over the life of the contract. Additionally, the Santiago Fire Department has purchased a Transformer pumper as well as an industrial pumper with Boomer technology—a product that combines five separate emergency-rescue functions (elevation, water discharge, hydraulics and air, electrical and lift) into a single device.
The contract contains specs for a ladder tender truck that will provide walk-in capability, seating for up to eight firefighters and storage for multiple sections of ladders and other equipment. Further, the Transformer pumper included in the order features two transverse compartments that provide access to tools and equipment from either side of the vehicle.
South American countries, such as Chile, have purchased a great deal of “hand-me-down” fire apparatus from the United States. But in recent times, these countries have been buying new, due to the low price of oil and other products that have driven up their economy.
Rosenbauer won an order that is stated to be the largest in its history from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of the Interior to supply fire engineering equipment worth a total of $318.8 million. According to Rosenbauer’s website, 1,125 vehicles are to be supplied, of various types and for various operational purposes, as are boats and other civil defense equipment.
Besides water tankers built to European standards, the supply contract also comprises pumpers and rescue vehicles manufactured to U.S. standards. In addition, heavy recovery vehicles, aerial ladders, boats and hydraulic rescue equipment have been ordered. More than 500 of these vehicles will be built in Lyons, S.D., with the balance to be built in Leonding, Austria; Karlsruhe, Germany; and Madrid, Spain. The order as a whole is to be fulfilled in several part-deliveries spread through mid-2014.
In addition, Rosenbauer recently signed a contract with Brazil’s state-owned airport operator Infraero Aeroportos to supply 80 PANTHER ARFF 6 x 6 crash trucks worth $42.9 million.
Rosenbauer might have a slight edge in selling in the foreign market as their headquarters is based in Austria. But from what I’ve seen recently, a great deal of the other manufacturers have entered the market wholeheartedly with a great amount of success.
As we know, the U.S. economy has seen municipalities reduce spending, causing the fire apparatus market to flounder the past two years. Fortunately, the new purchases from foreign countries have offset the low amount of orders domestically. I really don’t think it will affect these companies in meeting the needs of their U.S. customers, though. In reality, I think the apparatus manufacturers are just grateful to have another area to sell their products.
Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story