Brunswick’s 28-year-old tank truck sits outside the fire station. The 1994 Ford L8000, which the department replaced this spring, has 33,848 miles. Contributed / Ken Brillant

Despite sky-high prices and lengthy wait times for new fire trucks, the Brunswick Fire Department hasn’t seen interest in a tank truck it’s looking to sell, according to Fire Chief Ken Brillant.

The town’s website posted on Sept. 20 that the fire department would accept sealed bids of at least $10,000 on a 1994 Ford L8000 tank truck, which has been a staple of Brunswick’s fleet for nearly three decades. One day before the town’s deadline for bids, the department has not received any offers, underlining the difficultly of flipping used emergency vehicles, even in a seller’s market.

Buying fire trucks is a far different process than shopping for a sedan, according to Ed Pollard, sales representative for Northeast Emergency Apparatus, which sells gear and vehicles to fire departments.

“It’s not like you drive down to the dealership and walk around a lot,” said Pollard, who estimated 95% of all fire trucks are custom built.

Towns interested in buying new fire trucks contact dealers like Northeast Emergency Apparatus and determine the specific needs of their departments, customizing cab, tank and pump sizes among a variety of other features.

Brunswick’s new custom tank truck, which it put into service this spring, has a larger 2,500 gallon-tank, ladders and a deck gun, according to Brillant. These upgrades will help the department fight fires in the third of Brunswick that doesn’t have hydrant access, as well as allow the vehicle to better serve as a backup fire engine when the fleet’s other vehicles are busy or out of service.


While the department no longer needs the 1994 truck, which has begun to show rust spots and require small repairs, Brillant had hoped that smaller towns would be interested in the vehicle.

“It served its purpose here in Brunswick,” he said. “If a smaller department got it and there were some repairs made to it, they probably could make it go.”

The high maintenance cost associated with older vehicles tends to make them tough sells to fire departments, but buyers who need help urgently don’t have many options in the current market, according to Pollard.

Supply chain issues have pushed custom fire truck prices higher than Pollard has even seen in his 25 years in the business. Towns in a pinch used to be able to purchase demo trucks from dealers, but most of those were scooped up long ago, as wait times for new vehicles have crept up to two years.

He added the shortage of trucks for sale has especially challenged departments in Florida, which saw many vehicles damaged by Hurricane Ian.

Still, Brillant said he’s not surprised at the lack of interest in a nearly 30-year-old truck.

If no bids come in by Friday’s midday deadline, he will meet with someone from the Town Manager’s office to discuss next steps, which could include lowering the current minimum bid of $10,000 or searching for a dealer interested in purchasing the vehicle.

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