Tom Haines

Roll the equipment . . .

October 2, 2008 by Thomas B. Haines, Editor in Chief

Firefighters at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport provided a new meaning to the term “roll the equipment” when one of their $1 million fire trucks rolled over while speeding around the airport on a training drill. Two firefighters were injured, according to the WSBV-TV Web site.



The City of Atlanta owns 10 of the apparently top-heavy trucks, purchased for about $12 million over the last three years.


So in addition to whether a firetruck ought to roll over, one has to wonder why they cost $1+ million a piece. But apparently they do–another example of how airline-related operations drive the expense of the aviation system in this country. A plain-old $100,000 fire truck would probably serve the needs of GA just fine. Compare that to other costs incurred because of the airlines–runways with pavement five-feet thick to accommodate the “heavies.” Cat III landing systems. Inefficient in-trial separations because of wake turbulence. Meanwhile, the airlines whine that we should all pay user fees because, they like to believe, a “blip is a blip.” Well, what GA blip needs a $1 million fire truck?

Photo courtesy


3 Responses to “Roll the equipment . . .”

  1. Rod Rakic Says:


    That was the most succinct counter to the “a blip is a blip” argument that commercial aviation has been using that I have come across.

    You can bet I’ll be sharing.


  2. John Halbrook Says:


    Where I agree that GA does not need the same ARFF response as the heavies, the idea of Just a 100,000 fire truck is almost a footnote in history. True Airfield apparatus are generally specked with 4×4 capabilities, foam inductors, pump and roll response.

    In the past four years my fire department has purchased two pieces of equipment, neither of which have these capabilities. Our ladder truck went for 750,000. Today it would cost well over a million dollars, and our new rescue truck is costing over half a million.

    The true cost of a fire response budget is manpower. In this regard the aircraft industry actually gets a deal. Where structural fire companies generally staff between three and five fire fighters the Aircraft industry Only staff’s one or two.

    I agree with your argument that user fee’s should not be placed upon GA, your crash rescue analogy is a little light.



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