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    Post Apparatus Specifications

    Can anyone provide some creditable information on an apparatus consultant company called East-West? Are they worth the money? Do they do a fair evaluation or do they tend to promote one manufacturer over others.

    Thank you.

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    My question is simple. Why do you need an apparatus consultant? Don't you know what you need to serve your district?
    Last edited by FyredUp; 07-25-2009 at 01:46 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    My qyestion is simple. Why do you need an apparatus consultant? Don't you know what you need to serve your district?
    I think it's a fair question, Fyred. I've made this statement on several occasions in these fora, and I'll repeat it. It's a huge challenge to have a vision of a truck, then to convert that vision into words on paper. Then, to have someone far away read those words and come away with the same vision.

    That statement comes as a result of my own experience participating in spec'ing our '89 Quality/Duplex, and being the "scribe" of the specs for our 2007 Toyne/Spartan.

    Beyond that, if we read many peoples' comments in various threads here, we learn that there are many vehicles that aren't well spec'd. Some have too much glitter and gold, others have lesser quality components, still others are horribly underpowered. The list of pitfalls goes on and on.

    For a committee or a department to put their collective ego aside and realize that maybe they could use some outside expertise to help them get the most for their money isn't all bad. Or maybe they just want someone else's opinion.

    For my own part, I've never heard of the company that is mentioned so I wouldn't attempt to pass judgment on them. But our brother (or sister, as the case may be), presumably in Connecticut, has valid concerns and hopefully will get them addressed.

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    My qyestion is simple. Why do you need an apparatus consultant? Don't you know what you need to serve your district?
    I like Emergency Vehicle Response's line "You wouldn't build a $750K fire station without consulting an architect would you?" Most FD's do not have all the resources required to spec their apparatus as well as they should.

    We learned a lot using a consulting firm and would highly recommend it to anyone. Given most of us might spec one or two ladders in our careers and maybe a few more engines, we'll rarely be "experts". I've read some stuff about East-West (none bad), I think some FD's in the Westchester NY area have used them a bit?

    Of course the salesmen will always tell you you don't need a consultant, as they're not as likely to get their way as much.

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    I dont know anything about the firm mentioned, but I can contrbute one piece of advice, and I am going to sound like a broken record here, because if I have said it once, I have said it 364,377 times:

    Anyone, even remotely thinking about purchasing a new or used piece of apparatus, or thinking about refurbishment, no matter how big or small, cheap or expensive, needs to buy and read "The Fire Apparatus Purchasing Handbook" by William Peters (Fire Engineering publications.)

    This book deals with each and every aspect of purchasing (new) or performing a major refurb to a rig, from discussing current and future needs, to financing, to spec writing, sorting through bid proposals, awarding bids, inspection trips, taking delivery, training and break-in period, and warranty issues.

    This book should be an AUTOMATIC purchase for anyone on a truck committee, but most especially the Chairman.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post

    buy and read "The Fire Apparatus Purchasing Handbook" by William Peters (Fire Engineering publications.)
    This is a requisite resource even if you hire a consultant. You always want to have some basis to check with to see if what you're hearing makes sense. Peters also usually has one supplemental issue a year that comes with Fire Engineering and it too is always filled with great info.

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    FyredUp,

    I have to agree with what has been said by Sam, FWD, RFDACM02 they all made very valid points. If I have learned one thing, being in the fire service (21 years) and working in the apparatus business for 8 ½ years and that is most of us in the fire service are not smart enough to “know what we don’t know”. Not only that most apparatus committee members don’t have the time to properly research their apparatus. Apparatus consultants are starting to gain a small hold in the fire service. Which is a good thing, just make sure that company that is used has quality people employed by it.


    Ctfirelieut,

    I have heard of the name East-West all of it good never heard anything negative about them!

    Cheif1ff
    Mark

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    I agree, there have been some very good points raised here. I've been writing our apparatus specifications for over twelve years now, covering a couple dozen apparatus worth many millions of dollars. It is a serious responsibility, and deserves all the care and knowledge that you can bring to bear on it. Bill Peters' book is a good place to start, but Bill would be the first to tell you that you can't learn it all from a book. I started writing specs from a clean sheet of paper, and the first set I finished (for four 2000 gpm TeleSqurt engines) took two years. Since then, I have worked on evolutionary rather than revolutionary changes, trying to keep the changing needs of our department, the changing demographics of our community, the changing budgetary constraints from fiscal year to fiscal year, and the changing "state of the art" in the fire apparatus industry in balance. It's a challenge, to say the least.

    Apparatus consultants (some are now using Tom Shand & Mike Wibur's term "apparatus architect") can be a useful and cost-efficient resource - particularly if your department doesn't have the manpower, time or expertise to write their own specifications. Many departments aren't even sure exactly what they want or need. In those cases, it can be extremely helpful to have a set of "outside eyes" to focus in a little more clearly on what your department's best choice might be. They may be more willing to "think outside the box" than your Apparatus Committee.

    Now, let's talk a little about that Apparatus Committee. In my 36+ years on the job, I've seen them come and go. Many smaller departments have ten-man committees (WAY too many), and the criteria for being one of the "anointed ones" to sit on it consist of such things as selecting Billy Bob, 'cause "He drives a ten-wheel dump for the county, and he knows trucks". Or Cousin Ira, who used to know a guy who worked for a fire engine company. Or Chief Cooper, who (although 74 now) "has always decided what we need". Or Sam, who worked for _______________, then _____________, then _________________. (insert fire apparatus manufacturer's names here). What you end up with is too many different uninformed or biased opinions. Keep your committee small - 4 or 5 is plenty. Make sure they bring something to the table in the way of constructive knowledge . . . either in the design and construction of fire apparatus, or how and where it will be equipped and used. Don't let the tail wag the dog. By that I mean, don't let someone sell you a vehicle you have to figure out how to make work for your department. Start with a mission statement: What is this vehicle for? How many personnel will respond on it (be honest!)? Will it fit in the fire station, down that narrow street in your district, is it safe on your lightest-load bridges?

    There are a LOT of questions to be asked when considering the purchase of a new piece of fire apparatus. They are all important, and the input of the end-users should also be a part of the equation. What features do your current apparatus lack that they would like? What do you currently have that hasn't worked out very well or doesn't get used very much? Remember that the "state of the art" in the fire apparatus industry is always just a snapshot in time. It changes constantly, and many departments fall into the trap of standing on the platform at the train station, watching the train go by whlle they wait for the best and newest seat on the train. GET ON THE DAMNED TRAIN.

    While I can't offer any specific first-hand advice concerning East-West as a consulting firm, it sounds as if enough of us have heard of them to offer some confidence that they can help you out. As you begin your journey through this process, keep in mind that you aren't just looking for the apparatus that you or any other individual member of your committee "likes" best. You want the apparatus that offers the best, most reliable, most cost-effective choice for your firefighters, your department, and the people you serve. They deserve no less. Good luck.

    District Chief David B. Reeves
    Syracuse Fire Department
    Last edited by fyreline; 07-24-2009 at 12:41 PM.
    "SYRACUSE - An ISO Class One Fire Department"

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    I would regard using an unbaised outside consultant as a wise choice of money well spent.We haven't(to date)and all of our projects have had the desired effects with the Platform being the best(and biggest)one yet.That said,commitee members hadover two years in the project and I personally had hundreds of hours doing research for each meeting so that the myriad of choices available would have some background on each to guide us to the best decision. The finished project is as expected but in the future I'd tap some outside help as the technology is advancing faster than even an old apparatus "nut" like myself can absorb. T.C.

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    I suppose if there is a complete lack of experience or knowledge that a consultant could be valuable. I guess I am just astounded at the thought that a fire department wants to spec a rig and needs someone to tell them what they need.

    When my volly FD received the AFG grant monies to purchase an engine we already had what we wanted the rig to do, the basic configuration set out, pump, tank size, cab capacity, compartments and more already deep into the planning stages. We wrote it all up and asked reps in to see if what we wnated could be done for the money we had. Some said it couldn't be done, some simply wouldn't do it, and the few that remained were asked to develop preliminary specs from our spec. The rescue pumper is now 4 years old and has served us very well.

    The make up of our committee was one person who was an ag mechanic, one who worked in auto and truck repair and 2 of us who were more into fire body, pump, compartment and ergonomics. Input from all members was asked for and we talked to many other fire departments regarding our ideas and dealers we were working with.

    Maybe not how it is supposed to be done but it worked well for us.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 07-26-2009 at 04:04 PM.

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    I tend to agree with Fyred up to a point. If your department has speced trucks in the past and had the truck that you wanted then don't fix what isn't broke. If this is a departments first time or it's been awhile for specing a truck then a consulting service might be the way to go.

    The one thing I tell everyone on our truck committe is to read the spec, read the spec, read the spec and then ask questions about anything that catches their eye. The other thing is that if it isn't in the spec, then it won't be in the contract and it won't be on the truck.

    Good luck

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    Wow, I was not even aware that such companies existed. I suppose if nobody in your department has ever speced a truck or something like that they could be useful. Otherwise, I couldn't imagine somebody walking into our department and telling us what kind of truck we need.
    Assistant Chief
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    So I think that a good consultant would spend alot of time working with the FD. If I was going to consult I would talk with the FD and review what they think they needed and and give some options not to change thier mind jus as alternatives. A good consultant will go over every aspect of your unit including driveline, pump and compartmentation.
    Fyrtrks

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    I think that a lot of people in this thread forget that not everyone has the background in purchasing fire apparatus like some of the rest of us do. There are a lot of FD's in the US that don't have the call volume, fiscal background, or subject matter experts that other departments do, and therefore might look into using a consultant for their best interest.

    The consultants are going to come in and tell you what type of rig that you need to buy, unless you ask them to do that. The consultants will more often have a better grasp of industry trends, NFPA codes, EPA regulations, and what has worked successfully on other purchases. The purchaser might want 3000 gallons on a single rear axle or something else that just won't work. They don't want things like that because they're stupid - they simply might not know any better, and that's where a consulting firm will work.

    I think that if the way FyredUp's department purchased their last rig works for them, that's great. EVFD3100 didn't even go out to bid on his rig, he simply called one manufacturer and ordered a rig. Different purchasing methods work for different FD's, and if the OP wants a consultant to draft a good set of specs for competitive bids, I think that's a good move on his part.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    I suppose if there is a complete lack of experience or knowledge that a consultant could be valuable. I guess I am just astounded at the thought that a fire department wants to spec a rig and needs someone to tell them what they need.
    It may well be that these folks have a good handle on what they want and/or need to service their residents, but need assistance in determining how best to get it without shorting themselves or going overboard on the components that go into building that vehicle. Maybe they just need help in explaining what they want on paper. I have seen many sets of specs. Some are very clear and easy to read, others not so.

    There are even those few specs that look like some of the posts we see here. Some of us need lots of help, others of us could provide the help. We like to say in this business that the only dumb question is the one that doesn't get asked. If help is needed, ask for it!

    I remember a story about mistakes made by different professionals. It was said that physicians have it better than architects. A physician can bury his mistakes while an architect can only advise planting vines. What can we do with ours?

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    I think that if the way FyredUp's department purchased their last rig works for them, that's great. EVFD3100 didn't even go out to bid on his rig, he simply called one manufacturer and ordered a rig. Different purchasing methods work for different FD's, and if the OP wants a consultant to draft a good set of specs for competitive bids, I think that's a good move on his part.
    Our rig was put out for bid, however no takers except for E-One. Its no surprise we would have picked the E-One rig anyways since we have purchased many from them before and the dealer is 30 minutes down the road. Our specs that we put out were speced to E-One specs, but then again, who doesn't do that? Bottom line is, we're going to go with E-One. We have not had problems with their trucks and we don't believe in fixing something if it isn't broken. Our rig was roughly twice the truck of a neighboring department's new Pierce and ours was $75,000 cheaper fully equipped than theirs with no equipment.

    Like you said, it works for us. If a consulting company works for others, then thats cool. I just wouldn't recommend one for a department who has experience in specing a truck. Understandable for a department that has never done it before, etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by evfd3100 View Post
    Our specs that we put out were speced to E-One specs, but then again, who doesn't do that?
    Many, many departments don't do that. In fact, I recently wrote a 50-page specification from scratch for the sole purpose of NOT leaning towards a particular manufacturer. It's difficult to get truly competitive bids when you use specifications that are biased. I don't like it, and I don't do it - not condemning your department, I would just have a hard time with it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    Many, many departments don't do that. In fact, I recently wrote a 50-page specification from scratch for the sole purpose of NOT leaning towards a particular manufacturer. It's difficult to get truly competitive bids when you use specifications that are biased. I don't like it, and I don't do it - not condemning your department, I would just have a hard time with it.
    Box,

    I could not agree with you more!!! Too many departments call up there sales person and say we are looking to buy a new rig call you help us write the spec's. The problem with that is it leans towards one manufacturer, and a lot of times (not always) most other manufacturers will not bid.

    I prefer what I like to call a performance spec's and let any body bid. By writing a performance spec it forces everyone to sharpen their pencils right off the bat.

    Fyrtrks,

    "So I think that a good consultant would spend alot of time working with the FD. If I was going to consult I would talk with the FD and review what they think they needed and and give some options not to change thier mind jus as alternatives. A good consultant will go over every aspect of your unit including driveline, pump and compartmentation."

    I agree with that a good consultant would do just that!!

    Chief1ff
    Mark

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    My department is presently using East West Apparatus Consultants. I personnally am a fan of using a truck consultant and, specifically, EW has done a great job for us so far.

    This will not be a sales pitch for them. A truck consultant is there for your benefit. To protect/represent you from the salesman. In my experience, our consultant sat next to me during any/all interactions with the salesman and/or the truck manufacturer. He basically translated things that our committee did not understand and asked the questions that we did not. He made suggetions to us and explained why.

    We know our response are and we know what we need. However, there is so many things - fine details - that make a difference, both operationally and financially - that is where we found a great benefit with our truck consultant.

    We are receiving a tower ladder in February-March 2010. Purchase price $900,000 (+/-). So far, very pleased with the truck consultant and I reccomend.

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    Default co-op

    In Missouri, we are hearing more and more about co-op purchasing like the HGAC contracts. They have already completed the specs, you just choose the manufacturer and spec that is closest to your needs. Along with the basic spec is a wish list. As long as you do not substitute more than 25%, the co-op meets the legal stipulations of the competitive bid process. You get what you want without the perception of inpropriety by having one manufacturer help write a spec, and save the money that would be spent on a consultant. We have not tried this yet, but are seriously looking at this option for our next purchase. We have not used a consultant before, but it does not sound like a bad idea to have someone neutral assist in ensuring a good tight spec. All in all, it could save the tax payer money, if they can steer the truck committee from all the shiny stuff to what they really need.

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    My department is in the process of development of specs for a 2500 gallon
    pumper tanker. Would any of you care to share a copy of a performance
    spec that you might have used in the purchase of a new apparatus. If so,
    you can e-mail to srcoker1@netzero.net

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    Quote Originally Posted by ctfirelieut View Post
    Can anyone provide some creditable information on an apparatus consultant company called East-West? Are they worth the money? Do they do a fair evaluation or do they tend to promote one manufacturer over others.

    Thank you.
    I know of and have met Ken (East-West) on numerous occasions and can vouch for his credentials, professionalism and extensive knowledge of the apparatus business. He’s also a good guy. He has a tremendous in-depth & current knowledge of every single component utilized to assemble a rig -- to minutia. From the engine, driveline, chassis, suspension, steering, alternator, aux generators, body materials and assembly techniques, pump, valving & linkages, electronic components, ladder/boom assemblies & hydraulics, controls, etc. He can supply the + and – of each component, mfg and build techniques based upon actual field knowledge & experience and then let you make the choice. He doesn’t make the decision for you but merely supplies you with the knowledge/facts so your committee can do so in a well-informed manner.

    A number of years ago Ken along with others were assigned the task of writing spec’s & making purchases to rebuild a devastated apparatus fleet and get this done in months not years. Beside his career experience as a fireman, apparatus consultant he is also a hands on professional heavy truck mechanic.

    Lets just say the consulting rate is $8,000 on the purchase of a $450,000 Engine --- that’s approx 2% of the purchase price. Sounds pretty cheap and a hell of a value in my opinion.

    Disclaimer -- I have no affiliation with any apparatus consultant or apparatus MFG ---- merely a brother presenting an opinion in answer to a question.

    Be Careful.
    Last edited by tjsny1; 07-28-2009 at 03:50 PM.

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    Tag -

    Could you get me more infomation on the co-op thing. That is the first I have heard of it.

    Thanks
    dhayes@rmfd.org

    Our last engine we speced we wanted a KME so we used a KME spec to send out to 8 vendors, we got 3 back. We just speced for a new engine. It was written from the ground up. Lots of meetings, work and reading, but we feel we have given the vendors an even playing field to bid on a truck.

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    We used them on a recent aerial ladder purchase, they were an invaluable resource. We hired them after having a spec drawn up by a salesman who it seemed at the bid opening thought he had a ground ball. The salesman who had worked on the spec was the hightest of the three bidders with a difference of 105K between high and low bids, the third bid was 45K less than the high and was from a builder who is notorious for being priced on the high end. They evaluated the three bids and the bid was awarded. The first good sign was when we arrived at the precon meeting and the manufacturers staff were visibly concerned by their presence. These guys know the ins and outs of the industry they know the technology, the manufacturing techniqes and the shortcuts often taken.
    At the other factory visits, builders like to show you your shiney rig and take you out to lunch to get you out of the factory... these guys were on creapers with scematics of plumbing, wiring diagrams chasing wires, making notes... They saved us a tremendous amount of problems by finding problems prior to delivery which were easily corrected on the line rather than going back and forth to the dealer shop.
    I worked with one of these men on the truck committee at work and he knows just about all there is to know about fire trucks and the industry.
    We are planning to use them again for a truck that should be getting off the ground soon.
    Not sure about their rates but in the big picture I remember it was a mere fraction of the purchase price of the rig, less than some of the tools cost. Use them or use someone else, but use someone, your dealer is not your friend and is not working for you, you need someone knowledgeable in your corner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ctfirelieut View Post
    Can anyone provide some creditable information on an apparatus consultant company called East-West? Are they worth the money? Do they do a fair evaluation or do they tend to promote one manufacturer over others.

    Thank you.
    We are using East-West in my department in Northern NJ. I can vouch for them as being top notch, professional and knowledgable.

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