Your apparatus committee has just spent the past eight months investigating different manufacturers and models of pumpers for your next new rig. After the bid opening, you find out that only one manufacturer put in a proposal for the pumper and that its bid is within the allocated budget...
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After the bid proposals have been opened, the apparatus committee should develop a comprehensive spreadsheet to identify the major components and features on the apparatus and then go through each bidder's proposal to see exactly what is being offered. In these tight economic times, there can be great differences between the lower and upper bid prices for a single unit. At times, it can be difficult to initially determine how there could be a spread of up to $60,000 between bidders. Unless you read all of the details in each of the vendor's proposals, you may easily be misled into thinking that each bidder is supplying exactly what your specifications requested.
If your department has not obtained any outside assistance from an experienced apparatus consultant, now is the time to get some help in reviewing each bidder's proposal in detail to provide a written report for the department to review. Formal requirements for supplying bid bonds and performance bonds can generally be easily determined for compliance. Evaluating the differences in warranty terms and body-construction techniques may require some expertise that is beyond the capabilities of your local resources.
Following some of these concepts will ensure that your department will obtain several competitive bids for your new apparatus and will make the entire specification and bidding process go smoothly. Time spent during the initial phases of work with your apparatus committee will pay dividends in the end.
TOM SHAND, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 36-year veteran of the fire service and works with Michael Wilbur at Emergency Vehicle Response, consulting on a variety of fire apparatus and fire department master-planning issues. MICHAEL WILBUR, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, assigned to Ladder Company 27 in the Bronx, and has served on the FDNY Apparatus Purchasing Committee. He consults on a variety of apparatus-related issues around the country. For further information, access his website at www.emergencyvehicleresponse.com.