The Apparatus Architect: Part 4

Tom Shand and Michael Wilbur discuss ways in which an apparatus committee can successfully conduct meetings with vendors.

For apparatus with complex requirements or unique designs, it may be beneficial to invite the salesperson to visit the station before the meeting to review the department's existing apparatus and equipment designs. With this in mind, it is 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 ahead of time to allow more productive use of the meeting time.

Whether the meeting is scheduled for day or evening hours, the committee should develop an agenda of the topics that members want to cover during the meeting. Nothing can be more frustrating than sitting through a seemingly endless session that has no defined objectives and no starting or stopping points. Here, the apparatus architect can provide valuable input to allow the committee to achieve significant progress when meeting with apparatus salespersons. Whenever possible, copies of information and technical data should be available to all committee members and communicated ahead of time to the salesperson.

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 manufacturer's data. As the various components are discussed, the written documentation and product data sheets can be maintained logically in this format. One member should also maintain a photo diary of all apparatus that has been reviewed by the committee with written descriptions of important features. This information can be valuable in future meetings to expand on specific aspects and details that may be difficult to recall in later meetings.

After the initial meeting with each sales representative is concluded, a list of assignments should be 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 earlier in this series, minutes of each meeting should be posted for other department members to review.

Once the committee has met with an apparatus salesperson once or twice, it will then be possible to ask the salesperson to develop a set of detailed specifications for the department based upon the requested design. This can provide additional written technical data for the committee to review and consider in the design process.

Our next installment in this series will discuss various types of apparatus specifications and how they may be utilized to your benefit.

Tom Shand, a Firehouse