Much-needed new fleet vehicles are coming to the Houston, Texas, Fire Department but the department has faced a few hurdles in its fleet replacement process over the last several years.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City Council recently approved an ordinance to authorize an appropriation of over $32 million dollars to replace aging vehicles and equipment for various city departments, including the Houston Fire Department.
During the 2024 Fiscal Year, the fire department plans to acquire:
- 16 transport units.
- 7 engines.
- 3 ladder trucks.
While the approved purchases are part of a regular annual fleet acquisition, the vehicles will be much needed replacements. The vehicle purchases are part of an ongoing effort to replace aging fleet vehicles. Fire Department spokesperson Martee Black told Government Fleet that the fire chief has been working to replace vehicles over the last six years.
The Houston Fire Department has 103 frontline transport units, 88 engines, and 38 ladder/tower trucks.
Managing Economic Roadblocks and the Supply Chain Crisis
Black said that in around 2000, a large one-time fleet purchase was made. When those vehicles reached the end of their lifecycle, economic conditions did not allow replacements to be purchased in the volume necessary, causing some vehicles to be pushed past the recommended life of the vehicle.
In recent years, the department has experienced the effects of the supply chain crisis, with delayed or canceled vehicle orders. Now, the department is also seeing challenges with heavy fire apparatus orders.
Pre-pandemic, engines and pumpers were on a 12-month delivery schedule, while aerial devices were on a 12- to 16-month delivery schedule. Currently, delivery dates have been delayed to an estimated 18 months on engines, and up to three years for aerials, dependent on the manufacturer.
Fire departments across the country are experiencing the same delivery delays for vehicles. In some cases, fleet managers have shared with Government Fleet that they push fire trucks and other vehicles past their recommended lifecycle while waiting for new ones, like Houston Fire Department is doing. In other cases, fire departments have turned to used vehicles when necessary.