Author Topic: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome  (Read 5094 times)

Frugal Firefighter

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Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« on: June 23, 2014, 08:41:58 PM »
 
Area:
Rural NW Oklahoma
Town is roughly 4-5 sq miles
~5000 population

Current vehicle situation:
2008 Hyundai Elantra
-This is my wife's daily driver for a 24 mile, 20 minute commute. Awesome job with higher oilfield pay
2004 Nissan Titan
2010 Honda Shadow Phantom

Job situation:
Like I said, the wife has a great job at an oilfield company in a neighboring community.
I'm a full-time firefighter on a combination department. This means that, because of our size, I'm technically on call whenever I'm off work and in town for responses to the station or scene when needed.

My situation is difficult. I really want to start riding a bike, and I've almost pulled the trigger several times on good Craigslist finds. The thing that hangs me up is needing the quick response at any time to the station. Also, when I'm at the station, we are allowed to go home for lunch and supper, usually in our personal vehicle. During the week I  pack a lunch for the station, but on the weekend I go home to spend time with my wife. Every shift I go home for supper. I only live 1 mile from the station, but with an emergency response possibly needed, a bike isn't feasible on fire department days.

The Nissan Titan is soon to be posted for sale. My plan is to buy a $1500-2500, 30+ mpg car, hitch, and 6x12 utility trailer. I see roughly a $3000 profit strictly through these purchases and sale.

I help another firefighter on my days off that sometimes requires me to be a couple or few miles from the station or move to different jobs during the day. Also, within the next few months we will be beginning building our first house. I'll be doing a few things on the house; detached garage, siding, sheetrock, insulation, flooring, and cleanup. The local lumber store makes deliveries in town for any of my bigger supplies. Also, I have a brother-in-law, as well as other friends that I could borrow their truck if I absolutely needed one.

First, does the sale of my truck and use of a car and utility trailer make sense, especially with the upcoming build? Secondly, how can I incorporate the use of a bicycle into my daily transportation?

Mr. Frugalwoods

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 08:59:01 PM »
If you need to haul a bunch of crap around there's nothing better than an old minivan.  We have a 1996 Honda Odyssey and we've put an amazing amount of materials in the back.  All of the seats come out or fold flat, and suddenly it's like a pickup truck except covered!  It also gets 25 mpg and costs $2k (from looking at craigslist).

Towing is certainly an option with a smaller car, but I'm always wary of towing loads with cars that were never intended to pull (and more importantly stop!) anything more than their own weight.  Maybe you know better, or maybe your hauling needs will be infrequent enough that it won't matter.

Good plan getting rid of the truck in either case though!

deborah

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 09:00:24 PM »
I would check out whether there really is a difference in the time taken by bike and car. Alternate taking the bike to work and the car, for a couple of weeks, and time your commute from the same start point (from opening the door of your house for instance). If it is only a mile, there may not be the difference you think there is. If you do it for a couple of weeks, you may also find ways to make the bike ride more efficient. You could also get someone to help you timing it.

If it does take longer, you could also work out if that really makes a difference (for instance, someone else (who is always necessary) may be 2 miles away, so you are always waiting a few extra seconds for him, and you could get there faster than him on your bike).

If you can switch to the bike, you may need to figure out a way to convince your work mates that you are just as fast.

AssetGrinder

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2014, 09:08:04 PM »
Building a house is a lot of work. Ive built a few. Yes keep your gas guzzling truck. Wait till the build is done and then dump it. Unless u can find a good cheap car with lots of cargo space. A 07 honda fit would be perfect in those regards but it will be more than your budget. The utiliuty trailer us a good idea but dont expect to pull much with a small car. I would really stay away from a cheap minivan. I bought one for work. A beater for 2k. It sucked gas and had numerous problems.

 You would be surprised how handy a truck is while building so do yourself a favor and keep it.

Frugal Firefighter

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2014, 07:49:40 AM »
"Towing is certainly an option with a smaller car, but I'm always wary of towing loads with cars that were never intended to pull (and more importantly stop!) anything more than their own weight."

I think that the most I would ever be pulling, and would happen scarcely, would be a trailer plus the motorcycles, roughly 1250 together. The rule of thumb I've read to has been, never more than the total weight of the car too.


Deborah, I really like the idea of biking to the fire department, but if a call were to come in during lunch or supper I would be incapable of making an adequate response time. I think that bicycling on my side job/days off is far more likely. To elaborate more on getting called back to the station on days off, we only have two firefighters per shift so if they leave in the rescue truck, the other full-time guys are called into to cover our engine until those guys get back. We are paid 2 hours a time and a half whether we are there for 5 minutes or the full two hours. On my days off it's definitely possible bike, get around to jobs, and the station, but I guess that missing out on or being slow to callbacks is what I get complainy about.

AssetGrinder, as far as selling the truck goes, this has been my biggest hang up. I don't know how much I'll need it. I'm tired of it, not because of repairs-there have been minimal, but strictly because of fuel mileage and the miniscule amount of times I use it as a truck. I've been going back and forth on how well utilized it will be during the build.

As a note, I ride my motorcycle in town year round as long as it's not raining and above 40 degrees.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2014, 09:26:38 AM »
Mr. Frugalwoods is 100% correct on the cargo-hauling capabilities of an old minivan.  Our '01 Odyssey can swallow an entire BUNK of 2x4s (that's close to 300).  I'm not exaggerating--we did it exactly that just after Christmas. (it also fit about 20 PT 2x4s in addition to the bunk of normal 2x4s)

Emg03063

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2014, 12:01:55 AM »
Put an engine on your bike for emergencies.  Top speed is over 30mph.  Shouldn't reduce your response time too much.  If your fire dept doesn't like it, invite them to provide you a car.

http://www.bikemotorkit.com/

Frugal Firefighter

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2014, 06:14:10 PM »
"If your fire dept doesn't like it, invite them to provide you a car."

The quote that sealed the bike deal. Thanks for the bicycle engine link too.

I think I'll let the truck sit for now and wait out the build, then reevaluate after that.

Icecreamarsenal

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2014, 06:26:49 PM »
Good call on the bike. Assuming you're in relatively good shape, it should take around ~5-10 minutes.  What is a 'quick response time'?

Frugal Firefighter

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2014, 03:54:50 PM »
At 30 mph I would estimate I could get anywhere in town in under 7 minutes. Normal response with a FD vehicle is 3-4 minutes. Seemingly an insignificant difference, but it's something I'll have to try out on a day off and take into consideration because in an emergency 3-4 minutes extra is a long time.

superone!

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2014, 04:04:04 PM »
At 30 mph I would estimate I could get anywhere in town in under 7 minutes. Normal response with a FD vehicle is 3-4 minutes. Seemingly an insignificant difference, but it's something I'll have to try out on a day off and take into consideration because in an emergency 3-4 minutes extra is a long time.

I am a data analyst for a fire department, and if response times went from 3-4mins to 7+ minutes we'd have a big problem. It's pretty hard to explain to someone who lost their house/grandmother/kid that you couldn't get there fast enough to save them because you *rode your bike* instead of taking a vehicle. I don't know about your town, but that would never fly here.

 I don't think you should be driving your own vehicle (or riding your own bike) on calls though! If you had a Dept vehicle for use while you were on call, that would make a lot of sense. Then you restrict all non-fire dept related business (if you aren't on call) to the bike. Though it sounds like as a partially volunteer position you are on call all the time...?

superone!

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2014, 04:06:23 PM »
Also, you're in Enid? One of my best friends is from there! :)

Frugal Firefighter

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2014, 06:48:04 AM »
I'm actually in Alva now. I was in Enid, but we moved to a smaller community. I just haven't updated my information.

It's not a volunteer position. We are a combination department with 6 total full-time firefighters plus the Chief and Assistant Chief, which means two FFs/shift. Example response: 1) Rescue leaves on a medical call. Off duty firefighters are called back to man the station in case of another call. We are then paid at a minimum of 2 hours of time and a half. 2) On duty FFs leave in our first out engine for a house fire. Volunteers respond to the scene. Off duty firefighters respond to the station to respond in second and third out trucks. Although we aren't required to come in for callbacks by any policy, it's been an unwritten service we provide.

With a potential for an increase in response time, that's why I wanted to try it on a day off before ever doing that while on shift. We've occasionally talked about the need for a FD vehicle for those times due to liability reasons; however, it seems like the easy option for the City would be to say no more leaving.

skunkfunk

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2014, 07:03:51 AM »
You can get 1 mile pretty damn fast on a bike. It's not hard to crank it for 1 mile. That said, perhaps it would be best to have a vehicle while on duty, and limit the bicycle to on call and off duty. From the outside looking in, it doesn't look like 7 minutes to get to the station so you can sit around while the on duty guys respond to a call is terribly critical.

Grant Q

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2014, 09:29:18 AM »
Towing is certainly an option with a smaller car, but I'm always wary of towing loads with cars that were never intended to pull (and more importantly stop!) anything more than their own weight.  Maybe you know better, or maybe your hauling needs will be infrequent enough that it won't matter.

I lived in Germany for a long time and you should see the things the Germans tow with their cars.  I saw horse trailers with two horses in them behind Mercedes station wagons, camping trailers behind Audi A4s, all kinds of stuff.  Small cars are capable of towing a lot of weight as long as the load is properly balanced over the trailer axles, and a hatchback with a roof rack increases capabilities even more.

I'm selling my Toyota Tacoma pickup truck next month because I rarely use it to haul things.  Going to look into the utility trailer for my car but I think the best solution is just to rent/borrow a truck when I need one.  U-haul advertises them for about $20/day and Home Depot rents them out by the hour in my area.

Frugal Firefighter

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Re: Help Decreasing Clown Car Syndrome
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2014, 10:14:03 AM »
I was able to snag this ready to ride gem at a moving sale this weekend for $65.