Retreads Help Put Out the Fire

March 2007, Government Fleet - Feature

Henry Simons, chief of maintenance at the Shreveport Fire Department, is now a strong advocate of running emergency units on retreaded tires.

Retreads: Nothing to Fear
Once he and his maintenance team shared negative perceptions about retreads. A 1991 mandate from the fire chief forced Simons to begin using retreated tries on fire trucks and emergency medical units. “After about a year or two of experience with retreads, we learned they really do work,” Simons said.

“Many of us feared the tread would peel off during an emergency run, when the vehicles travel at a high rate of speed. In the 15 years we have been saving the Shreveport taxpayers substantial dollarsby using retreads, that has never happened,” continued Simons.

The City of Shreveport switched to Southern Tire Mart and Bandag retread products in 1997 for better service capabilities. The Shreveport Fire Department fleet includes 27 pumper trucks, eight aerial trucks, 15 medic units, and eight to 10 support vehicles, each equipped with retreads. These vehicles operate out of 21 fire stations. Prompt arrival at an emergency is critical and equipment is spread throughout the city for quick response.

Having equipment in many different locations presents special service challenges. David Johnson, commercial sales representativefor Southern Tire Mart, makes sure Shreveport’s emergency vehicles service calls are given highest priority.

Emergency vehicles travel at a high rate of speed when answering calls. The torque and “jackrabbit” starts take a toll on tread wear. According to Simons, the City of Shreveport averages 12,000-14,000 miles on a new tire. At half the cost, Bandag retreads almost double that wear performance, delivering an average of 22,000 miles per tire.

Southern Tire Mart provides the city both new tires and retreads for its fleet. “We closely track the performance of both tires andfound that the city actually has fewer problems with the retreads,” stated Johnson.

Getting the Word Out
With the reliability, performance, and cost savings of retreads, Simons finds it hard to believe there are still skeptics among public sector fleets.

“We have more than 15 years of experience with retreads. We can document they are every bit as safe as a new tire, and the w ear performance exceeds a new tire at a fraction of the cost,” Simons concluded.

According to Harvey Brodsky of the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB), several retread tire companies offer quality and savings. A list of companies is available at, or by e-mail at[email protected].

Information reprinted with permissionfrom Bandag.

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