Whether it be a commercial, industrial, or residential fire, citizens everywhere depend on the efficiency and speed of local fire departments to get potentially deadly situations under control in short order.
But does anyone ever wonder where the fire trucks, apparatuses and gear come from?
Lincolnton-based Metrolina Fire & Rescue is a business that the average consumer probably doesnâ€™t know exists.
Thatâ€™s because its customer base is fire departments across North Carolina including Denver, Crouse and Charlotte.
â€œWe sell everything a fire department would need as a department and/or individual firefighters,â€ said Metrolina corporate secretary Leighann Campbell. â€œWe also carry flashlights and sell and service fire extinguishers.â€
The business, which opened six years ago, recently received the Top Dealer Partner award from Michigan-based Spartan Chassis, a subsidiary of Spartan Motors, Inc.
â€œWe are proud with this national recognition and appreciate the loyalty of our local fire departments that choose us and Spartan Chassis to protect their communities,â€ said dealer principle Rick Spake.
According to a press release from Spartan Chassis, Metrolina Fire & Rescue â€œwas recognized for their industry knowledge and exceptional leadership in fire truck sales and service.â€
According to Campbell, Spartan represents about 90 percent of Metrolinaâ€™s chassis business.
â€œOur sales in 2005 is estimated to be around $5.2 million,â€ she said. â€œMost of the trucks sold in 2005 havenâ€™t been delivered yet due to the lead time and construction of a fire truck, which can take up to 12 months.â€
Campbell added the figure of $5.2 million represents 15 fire trucks with only two not on Spartan chassis.
â€œSpartan chassis are customized,â€ said Campbell. â€œOther chassis, like International and Freightliner, for example, are commercial chassis. They look like a box.â€
Campbell added that Metrolina has been a Southeast leading dealer for the past four years.
â€œOur average total truck sales are over $5 million dollars every year,â€ she said.
The average life of the truck depends on the customer according to Campbell.
â€œMany fire trucks in this area are going to last about 15 years and that depends on the call volume. Charlotteâ€™s trucks, on the other hand, last about 10-12 years because their call volumes are higher.â€
While the Denver Volunteer Fire Departmentâ€™s 2002 International fire truck is on a competitorâ€™s chassis, the department worked with Metrolina.
Two months previous to Denverâ€™s purchase, the Crouse Volunteer Fire Department purchased a Spartan Gladiator chassis fire truck through Metrolina.
â€œWe have had no problem with the chassis or the dealer,â€ said chief Milton Sain. â€œThere was a minor recall on the ignition celenoid on that truck,â€ said fire chief Milton Sain. â€œBefore it became a problem for us, the problem was fixed by Rick Spake. He makes sure his customers are happy and he doesnâ€™t let anything creep-up. Heâ€™s an outstanding dealer who sells the best fire trucks on the market and has the best customer service Iâ€™ve ever seen.â€
Sain added that Spake himself is very accessible.
â€œIf we have even the most minute problem, all we have to do is call him and itâ€™s taken care of,â€ said Sain. â€œHeâ€™s an honest businessman and thatâ€™s hard to find.â€
Sain spoke of accidentally knocking a mirror off the truck late one Saturday night .
â€œHe keeps parts in stock and had the mirror for me at his office Sunday morning,â€ said Sain. â€œI called him at 9:30 and by 11 the truck had a new mirror on it.â€
Sain said that he buys a lot of supplies from Metrolina, â€œkeeping local money local.â€
â€œThe Spartan chassis is so good, nothing else comes close,â€ said Sain. â€œWe have an International chassis on a truck we got through a federal grant, and I wish it was a Spartan.â€
Rich Schaffer, president of Spartan Classic, said the team at Metrolina â€œis a great example of excellence.â€
â€œWe set high standards for our dealer partners,â€ said Schaffer. â€œWe had record sales in 2005 and expect this trend to continue as we partner with the best dealers to deliver quality and performance to fire departments across the region.â€
For more information on Metrolina Fire & Rescue, call (704) 748 – 1320 or visit the Web site: www.metrolinafire.net
The Crouse Volunteer Fire Department purchased this fire truck, which is on a Spartan gladiator chassis, in September 2002 through Metrolina Fire & Rescue. The company recently received the Top Dealer Partner award through Spartan Chassis at the annual Spartan Partnership Conference held Jan. 31 – Feb. 1 in Las Vegas. Contributed Photo
by Jon Mayhew