Another concept would be for the committee to develop and produce an outline, bullet style specification covering all of the important areas on the apparatus. In areas where there are points of discussion or questions, these can be written into the outline at the appropriate points. The more information and technical questions that can be documented ahead of time, prior to the meeting, this will promote the flow of information and make the sessions much more productive for everyone.
On apparatus with complex requirements or unique designs it may be beneficial to invite the salesperson to visit the station prior to the meeting to review the fire departments existing apparatus and equipment designs. With this in mind it will be helpful for the department to prepare a detailed apparatus inventory, including sizes and weights of equipment in order to properly prepare for the overall design process. Once again, this information should be shared with the apparatus salesperson prior to the formal meeting to allow more productive use of the meeting time.
Weather the meeting is scheduled for day or evening hours the committee should develop an agenda of the topics that they want to cover during the meeting. Nothing can be more frustrating than sitting through a seemingly endless session that does not have defined objectives with no starting or stopping points. Here, the Apparatus Architect can provide valuable input to allow the committee to achieve significant progress when meeting with each of the apparatus sales personnel. Wherever possible, copies of information and technical data should be available to all committee members and this should be communicated ahead of time to the salesperson to enable them to come properly prepared to the meeting.
Each committee member should be encouraged to maintain a three ring binder with sectional dividers for each portion of the apparatus and one for each of the specific manufacturer's data. As the various components are discussed the written documentation and product data sheets can be logically maintained in this format. One member should be responsible for maintaining a photo diary of all of the apparatus that has been reviewed by the committee with written descriptions of any of the important features of the apparatus. This information can be valuable in future meetings to expand upon specific aspects and details that may be difficult to recall in later meetings.
After the initial meeting with each sales representative is concluded there should be a list of assignments developed for both the committee and the manufacturer to follow up on before another session is scheduled. The progress made during the initial meeting will dictate the schedule and agenda for any follow up sessions. As mentioned in earlier parts of the Apparatus Architect series, minutes of each meeting should be posted for other department members to review.
Once the committee has met with the apparatus sales personnel for one or two meetings, it will then be possible to request that the sales person develop a set of detailed specifications for the department based upon their requested design. This can provide some additional written technical data for the committee to review and consider in the design process. In the next part of the Apparatus Architect we will discuss the various types of apparatus specifications and how they may be utilized to the your benefit.