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    Talking How to stick with one manufacturer?

    If I was to get a grant for a piece of apparatus how could I make sure it was from the same manufacturer as the rest of our trucks? Could I argue the fact of service and common controls? I dont want a pierce, an e-one, a resenbauer and a sutphen...i want one type... not that I have one of each of those or i wouldnt have a worry in the world!! ha ha

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    Wink It's all in the specification writing

    Quote Originally Posted by centralfire View Post
    If I was to get a grant for a piece of apparatus how could I make sure it was from the same manufacturer as the rest of our trucks? Could I argue the fact of service and common controls? I dont want a pierce, an e-one, a resenbauer and a sutphen...i want one type... not that I have one of each of those or i wouldnt have a worry in the world!! ha ha
    In my experience with writing a couple truck specs and a skid unit spec. in December, you can pretty much write the bid specification to give one manufacturer the best advantage. That is the reason why they all want you to use their specfication for bidding, as it gives them an advantage to use their construction method, preferred parts, etc. If they are forced to take an exception to the specification, you can always reject their bid. Example, 4-Guys in Pennsylvania only builds with stainless steel, spec. a stainless steel truck and most others won't even bid or are not as cost competitve as they don't do the volume of stainless trucks. Each manufacturer has their bread & butter construction. Another trick is to write the required warranty to match a specific manufacturer's. Pick who you want and use their specification template. I admit, I had my share of trouble getting the suppliers to give me an electronic copy that my committee could edit. Most wouldn't give it to me, but would make any changes I wanted. Apparently, they don't know much about OCR software. Any hard copy can be converted back to editable text pretty quickly. That is what I did and then our committe made our changes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fighting41NY View Post
    In my experience with writing a couple truck specs and a skid unit spec. in December, you can pretty much write the bid specification to give one manufacturer the best advantage. That is the reason why they all want you to use their specfication for bidding, as it gives them an advantage to use their construction method, preferred parts, etc. If they are forced to take an exception to the specification, you can always reject their bid. Example, 4-Guys in Pennsylvania only builds with stainless steel, spec. a stainless steel truck and most others won't even bid or are not as cost competitve as they don't do the volume of stainless trucks. Each manufacturer has their bread & butter construction. Another trick is to write the required warranty to match a specific manufacturer's. Pick who you want and use their specification template. I admit, I had my share of trouble getting the suppliers to give me an electronic copy that my committee could edit. Most wouldn't give it to me, but would make any changes I wanted. Apparently, they don't know much about OCR software. Any hard copy can be converted back to editable text pretty quickly. That is what I did and then our committe made our changes.
    Basically a very common practice in NJ. And has recently led to some departments getting into trouble...
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Check the new rules, vendors can't give awardees bid specs anymore, it's a violation of open procurement conflict of interest laws. If you evaluate bids and decideon a vendor based on past performance and the fact that you have other trucks of the same kind then that's a valid reason for chosing that way. As long as it's documented it's fine.

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    Smile BC79er, were you ever a lawyer??

    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er View Post
    Check the new rules, vendors can't give awardees bid specs anymore, it's a violation of open procurement conflict of interest laws. If you evaluate bids and decideon a vendor based on past performance and the fact that you have other trucks of the same kind then that's a valid reason for chosing that way. As long as it's documented it's fine.
    I trust that you are 100% correct, but, I still think you are taking the super strict legal E interpretation.

    Face the facts, without being an apparatus engineer, chassis engineer, pump expert and an NFPA expert, etc. it is pretty much impossible for the average dept. to write a specification on their own. Without a vendor specification as a starting point, how then does someone go about writing a specification? It's not like anyone can just sit down and write a 50 page pumper specification. We didn't intentionally write our skid unit specification to end up with any particular vendor, but without the specifications and ideas from a couple key vendors in the first place, we never could have written the bid specification. We swiped ideas and verbage from a couple templates we had and wrote what we thought was a generic specification.

    Same example as before, specifying a stainless steel or aluminum body is not a violation of open procurement as this material is available to all builders. But by doing so, you will spec. out some builders as it is not their standard bread and butter construction. The stainless also carries a much higher warranty then aluminum. The same holds true with any of the hundreds of parts that go into a fire truck. The bid specification, no matter how generic, will always give some vendors an advantage.

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    You can always write a performance spec. Just put in a list as detailed as you want for the bid. I have seen some that are 2-3 pages and some that are over 50 pages. If you want a specific manufacturer or to exclude one, put in something you know one manufacturer can do but the other cannot.

    Examples,

    The floor between the rear facing seat and the rear wall must be XX" NO EXCEPTIONS. A Pierce is different from a Spartan and is different from an ALF.

    The body shall have a welded not extruded subframe, NO EXCEPTIONS

    The FD will not accept any bids from a company that is currently in Bankruptcy protection or has been in the past 5 years.


    Be specific on what you want, specify your pump size and brand. Be brand specific wherever possible. That alone will remove some players from the game.

    I would encourage you to meet with more than just one manufacturer though. You are only cheating yourself if you do not see what everyone has to offer.

    Good Luck

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    Default trucks

    My understanding is you need to follow your town's purchasing policy. Ours says we need to get three bids. We are not obligated to take the lowest bidder but we need to be able to justify why we doesn't take the lowest bidder. I think as long as you can justify why you accepted a particular bid over another and the price range is not too outrageous you should be okay. I agree if you want or need somehting you need to specify in the RFP what you want but be careful not to let the manufacturer do it for you.
    My two cents.
    Mark

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    My advice to all of you is you had better use GREAT CAUTION here. Conflict of interest and sole source providing by writing or accepting bids that no one else can meet is ON THE RADAR SCREEN of AFG BIG TIME irght now! CFR44 13.36 subsection.
    Kurt Bradley
    Fire/EMS/EMA Grant Consultant
    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Default so i hear

    My apparatus dealer contacted me this week to talk about his dissatisfaction with one company writing grants for a dept and then sellig them a truck. 150K dollar trucks are being sold on AFG for 250K and bidding is out the window...not to mention these trucks arent NFPA compliant. Smells fishy to me....

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    central, what you're talking about has the attention of the US Attorney's Office already. That's been illegal all along.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er View Post
    central, what you're talking about has the attention of the US Attorney's Office already. That's been illegal all along.
    for one particular manufacturer or just in general?

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    In general. Title 44 requires an open procurement process, and details conflict of interest points. One of them being that if a grant writer also writes the specs on the bid and is the salesperson then they're obviously not being objective about the writing process or the bid process.

    Basically all bids must be as open as possible, so getting a bid from more than one manufacturer is now required also. The only exception is when it is documented that a testing and evaluation process was used to determine a price/quality mark, then a bid can be made for a single manufacturer. So if someone tests X, Y and Z brand SCBA and the recommendation is Z they can bid out for just Z brand. Or they can request bids first then run an evaluation. No one that sells anything at all can be involved in the evaluation and the entire process needs to be documented.

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    i was meanining are the feds watching one builder in particular?

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    No they're watching everyone. All companies have done the single source spec at one time or another.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er View Post
    No they're watching everyone. All companies have done the single source spec at one time or another.
    what i was referring to was one particular builder...anyone else heard about this?

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    This is one of the many reasons that the manufacturer's each build their products slightly different, so that they can exploit these differences into a specification the they are the only one that can meet it, without an exception.

    It doesn't take a long time, nor is it very difficult to write a performance specification that provides you what you are looking for, yet still provides the best stewardship of the taxpayers money. Simply buying another "Brand X" becayuse everything else in the house is Brand X is lame. The differences in driving and cab operations really aren't that different! And there are only a few major pump manufacturer's on the market, and most apparatus manufacturers build with more than one pump manufacturer.

    So if on one hand, you are claiming "need", but on the other hand you can afford to be pickey, then the "need" becomes questionable. Apparatus aren't like SCBA, where interoperability is so much more critical.

    BTW - I come from a vol station where first due is a KME, 2nd due is a 3D, 3rd due is an E-One, and the Rescue is an old Sanford. They all have Hale single stage pumps, but depending on the year of manufacture, each has more updated pressure relief / control systems. Once you learn to drive / operate one, the others come quite easily, with the possible exception of the KME, but that's because it's the only one equipped with a CAFS system.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."

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    Part of the irony here of course is that the feds themselves are the worst offenders of open procurement. Take defense contracts into consideration, heck even look at the GSA system.

    Either way all this change means is that more paperwork has to be done. The effect of bids won't be changed anyway, since open procurement only requires a "valid" reason for choosing a bid. Low-bid is not a requirement, just documented reasoning. Single service point, local service, history of service/disservice of vendor, FF evaluation of products, etc, etc are all valid reasons. All they want to see is that the evaluation is done. Part of this stemmed from the recent SoCal issue of choosing the SCBA that was one of the least recommended and most expensive after the evaluation, a combination that can't happen without 'influence' under reasonable conditions considering the large price difference between that one and the #1 recommended by the FFs. Unless the #2 recommended from an evaluation is less than the #1 price, there had better be a lot of documentation on why the recommendation wasn't followed.

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    The other reason this came about is that grant writers were being paid to write the grant, paid another fee to administer the grant which included writing the bid specs. Some sold trucks, others sold equipment so the bids kept getting rewritten and resent until someone won the bids, and of course salesfolks being on commission, obviously got paid to sell the products also. Which has been illegal all along, so not sure why there needed to be a new interpretation of existing laws.

    Hence the reason Kurt and I along with a lot of others with vendor ties don't get involved in bids other than stating what's required. Plus t'ain't none of my business what you use at your firehouse just like it's nunya's bizness what I do at mine.

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    Brian, as always you are a wealth of knowledge, thanks for weighing in on this one

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    Unfortunately I have more. But have to wait until I hear more about a certain subject before I say anything so as not to cause a panic off of misinformation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er View Post
    Unfortunately I have more. But have to wait until I hear more about a certain subject before I say anything so as not to cause a panic off of misinformation.
    Where is the the fun in that attitude?

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    I know, I have that bad habit of wanting to keep facts straight so people can make informed decisions. I'm in rehab for it, that way I can pursue a political career without a conscience...

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    Imagine that BRIAN VICKERS for "PRESIDENT" what a great Fire service this would be!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Nah, the country couldn't run with the balanced budget, proper trade agreements, incentives to create products and create jobs here for export out that I'd want to put into place. Stuff like that works and helps everyone that's willing to take work hard make improvements in their life and community. Can't have that messing with people's handouts...

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    Default Procurement Policies to be Reviewed in Pittsburgh

    Don't think it will not happen. A news article about Pittsburgh's purchase of a vehicle exhaust system that 2 other companies have filed complaints about not being able to compete.

    FEMA to review purchase of system
    Tuesday, March 17, 2009
    By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to review the city of Pittsburgh's purchase of a $977,550 firehouse ventilation system with a federal grant, in light of two vendors' complaints that they were prevented from competing for the work, FEMA officials said yesterday.

    FEMA will ask the city for its procurement policies and its contract with the Toledo-area firm Clean Air Systems Inc. that is installing the system, and will compare that with the five pages of purchasing regulations in the federal law governing Assistance to Firefighters Grants. One of those grants is covering $716,760 of the cost.

    FEMA will conduct "a full desk review," said Lisa Lewis, director of the agency's grants management division. "With the concerns [expressed by competing vendors] we'll take a closer look at it" than grants normally get.

    City Public Safety Director Michael Huss and a firefighters union committee wanted the ventilation system made by Sweden-based Nederman Inc., to carry diesel fumes from 50-some fire truck and ambulance tailpipes through hoses and vents and out of firehouses. The regional distributor for that system is Clean Air Systems.

    The city contracted with Clean Air Systems through a state program that allows municipalities to pick from a list of commodity vendors and prices, rather than going through lengthy competitive bidding processes. Federal rules encourage joint purchasing between state and local agencies, but bar numerous procedures that "unduly restrict competition," as the regulation puts it.

    Executives at Hempfield-based EMS Specialty Equipment, Cincinnati-based MagneGrip Group and their distributor Aire-Deb Corp. of Buffalo have said they wanted to compete for the business, but the city did not let them submit proposals.

    Such complaints are "not very common," said Brian Cowan, program director for FEMA's Assistance to Firefighters Grants. He noted that there was "nothing improper" about the city's grant application.

    Ms. Lewis would not specify the possible outcomes of the review, other than to say they can range from no action to termination of a grant or an effort to recoup funds. The review could take 90 days and FEMA officials would not commit to making it public.

    Rich Lord can be reached at rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.
    First published on March 17, 2009 at 12:00 am

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