By Tim Heston
Crimson Fire, a lean fire truck OEM, enjoys record orders, but prepares for challenges ahead.
Randon Bernards needs to fill jobs, fast. The fabrication technical lead at Crimson Fire has spent more time interviewing people during the past few months than he has since he arrived on the job six years ago. The shop enjoyed a dramatic uptick in orders in December, a time when most shops' work was slowing significantly.
"We wish we could take all the credit for [the surge in orders], but we can't," said Kevin Crump, president of the Brandon, S.D., firm, explaining that some significant National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards went into effect for trucks ordered in January 2009. Those require ments include onboard safety systems that add thousands to the cost of the truck. So in December municipalities placed orders under the wire, before the NFPA standard went into effect. That saved Crimson's customers a chunk of change, but it also gave the fire truck OEM a record backlog of 225 trucks.
"I'm working so much, it's not even funny," Bernards said. The company had 99 truck orders in December alone. "Typically, we build 20 to 25 trucks a month. From December, we've got months of work there on top of the work load we already have."
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