Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Going Up?

Another amusing recent local news item:

About a dozen people stuck in an elevator at the Township Public Safety Building were rescued through the elevator car hatch on Monday night around midnight.

The elevator was stuck between the second and third floors. The elevator occupants were leaving a meeting of the township Zoning Board of Adjustment, which adjourned about 11:30 p.m. There was no illness or injury reported.

Okay, there’s nothing funny about getting stuck in an elevator. But, if you are going to get stuck in an elevator, getting stuck in the "Public Safety Building" has a certain irony to it.

Members of the local emergency services squads assisted with this rescue.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Life for an Old Rig

All across the country, smaller communities often acquire fire apparatus and ambulances second-hand, from larger communities. This is an economic reality, and typically the small communities do an excellent job of making do with something less than the absolute latest and greatest.

This is true here in New Jersey as well, where the fire company in a very small town not far from the offices of the Badge Company of New Jersey just put its second used ambulance into service.

"This is like a retirement home for ambulances," the Fire Chief quipped, but with wise budgeting and wise spending the community was able to refurbish the ambulance to the extent that it can scarcely be distinguished from a new one.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pull Over

The last Ford Crown Victoria rolled off a Canadian assembly line yesterday, marking the end of the big Ford cars that have been popular with police departments for decades.

Including civilian models, since 1979 almost 10 million Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Cars – so-called Panther Platform vehicles – have been sold. But sales numbers have been falling steadily in recent years due to changing consumer preferences and demand for better fuel economy and performance.

In recent years the cars have only been offered to fleet buyers, not individual retail customers. Now all production has stopped. Ford says that it sold about 80,000 Crown Victorias and Town Cars combined last year. That figure just wasn't enough to support a factory capable of producing 250,000 cars a year.

The Crown Victoria has been popular with police and fleet users because of its roominess, ruggedness and relative simplicity. The Panther Platform was an old-fashioned body-on-frame design which, while heavier than other cars, has an excellent reputation for being able to withstand heavy, punishing use. The Crown Victoria has also been an easy-to-service vehicle.

Ford has already begun marketing vehicles to take up the Crown Victoria's role in police fleet use. The automaker has started producing a specially designed Taurus Police Interceptor as well as a version of the Explorer tailored for police use. Chrysler and General Motors are marketing their own police car options with the Charger and the Caprice PPV.  And Carbon Motors, about whom we wrote back in 2008, is still planning to produce their own specialty police car.

Police agencies aren’t the only fleet operators mourning the loss of the Crown Vic. Taxi companies and livery service companies face some hard choices. Vehicles such as the Ford Transit Connect van are being marketed as a taxi cab, along with a Nissan van. For livery service companies Ford is making a special version of the Lincoln MKT, a large crossover SUV.

In one sense, we have been though this before. When Chevrolet stopped making the large, body-on-frame rear-drive Caprice in 1996, police officers nationwide were unhappy to see it go. But the Crown Victoria was a readily-available alternative, and Ford through the years kept tweaking the car to improve its suitability for police service.

But today the alternative choices are not as obvious. The Charger has ample performance but is smaller; the Caprice PPV is a new and as-yet unproven model in the American market; and the Ford replacements are based on front-wheel-drive designs, heretofore weaker for police use. The Carbon Motors entry simply isn’t here yet. Fleet buyers have a headache on their hands.

The Ford Taurus Police Interceptor

The Ford Explorer Police Interceptor

The Chevrolet Caprice PPV

The Dodge Charger Pursuit

The Carbon Motors e7

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Clutch Play II

It has happened again.

Last year we wrote about thieves in Philadelphia who had to abandon a FedEx truck they were hijacking, because it had a manual transmission and none of them knew how to drive it.
In today’s news:
A Jersey City man was robbed late Monday, but was spared losing his 2007 Infiniti when the thieves couldn't drive a stick shift vehicle.
As the victim was removing items from the trunk of his car about 10:50 p.m., a man in his mid-20s walked up to him and pointed a silver revolver at his face, reports said. An accomplice, also in his mid-20s, took credit cards from the victim, as well as two cellphones and an Apple iTouch and his house and car keys.
The robbers jumped in the Infiniti, but they couldn’t get the car in gear and fled on foot.