1. #1
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    Default Does your department own a vending machine?

    Just wondering if any departments out there have their own pop (soda) machines in the stations and how is it working out? Where did you get them? Have you had a problems with them? Are they worth the investment?

    Our department has two machines in one station and one machine in the other. It would be nice if we could put several different brands of pop in the same machine (Pepsi, Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc), get the revenue and take up less space.

    Just wondering how this has worked out for other departments.

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    We have one in our headquarters station. Our other stations have an old refrigerator that is stocked with a variety of sodas and candy. We have an old coffee can or tupperware container for the money and we post the prices on the front. Sodas at $0.50, most candy is $0.50 for regular size and $1 for large. Gatorades are $1. Prices are higher on the vending machine than the other stations. I don't know what our contract says for it, but I looked into one for a past job and unless you have loads of people or high sales volume, they usually tack on a servicing fee, which makes it difficult to keep the prices low. I'd just get a fridge and stock it from Costco or Sam's Club. Make it an even amount and use the "profit" to buy stuff the whole station can use (cable fund, coffee, etc.).

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    I've seen some departments/stations that have machines that work out fairly well. Some will buy them from Sam's or something like that, but most are from a distributor that's getting rid of old machines.

    We used to use the honor system, but that's failed. I've been meaning to get with a couple of distrubutors to see about getting an old machine, just haven't gotten around to it yet.

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    We do the fridge thing at our training complex and Station 3 (unmanned).

    This would be at the main station and there is a lot of traffic through there. Currently we have a machine from both Coke and Pepsi and Coke works with us but you have to spend so much with them a month. Know people get them as fund raisers so I was wondering if anyone had experience with them.
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    I bet you could find a distributor with an old machine they might be willing to part with...

    Call around. Can't hurt.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    We provide free water, soda, and Gatorade for our members.

    A neighboring department has a station that's right next to a popular cycling route, they have one outside and I'm sure they make a killing from the gatorade sales in the summer!

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    We used the honor system of candy on the counter and soda in the fridge. It made a nice profit for the "firemans fund". The main draw back was keeping it stocked and going to the store. We also had the money stolen out of the box on the counter by someone that was attending a class. They looked at buying machines and chose not to do so because of the investment of them, maitance cost, and having someone shopping and stocking them. We have company now that does a very good job of stocking what we ask for and will be at the station within a couple of hours to fix any problems. We went through several companies before we found these guys.

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    Coke lets us use a nice 20 oz. bottle machine, we buy the drinks and sell them for a $1. Makes a little of money and keeps everyone honset. When we have cookouts, chief opens it up and its free drinks all around
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    Each of our stations has a vending machine for cold drinks.
    Each station handles it's own "Coke fund", the proceeds are used to pay for the premium channels on the TV, pay per view events, new TVs and such.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Have you guys had any problems with the machines breaking down or in need of maintenance? We already have someone that stocks the training grounds and one of the benefits of a machine is the amount of product it holds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FFWALT View Post
    Just wondering if any departments out there have their own pop (soda) machines in the stations and how is it working out? Where did you get them? Have you had a problems with them? Are they worth the investment?

    Our department has two machines in one station and one machine in the other. It would be nice if we could put several different brands of pop in the same machine (Pepsi, Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc), get the revenue and take up less space.

    Just wondering how this has worked out for other departments.

    Thanks,
    Good luck getting Pepsi and Coke in the same machine. I only use the vending machines in a pinch. For the most part I pay the $3.00 for a 12 pack of soda instead of the $16.00 it cost to get it from the vending machine.

    We tried charging at one time and it became a hassle and an issue. It is one of the few benefits the guys get for contributing 100s of hours of time.
    Last edited by ScareCrow57; 01-01-2010 at 04:18 PM.

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    For years we owned our own pop machine. It was an old one and it finally died about 5 years ago now. We used to OWN it, so we could put whatever we want in it. Now that machine has been replaced by a Coke machine and they regulate it, fill it, and of course the price went up. We used to use the money before as a side fund raiser. Now we get nothing from the pop machine.

    We also have three little candy machines like at the entrance to the grocery store, a quarter and turn the handle thing. That is full of Runts, M&M's, and Skittles or Mike and Ikes. We also have a vending machine in our kitchen with chips, candy, cookies, etc. The cops munch on those things pretty regular. We have a Public Safety building so it gets used a lot. A firefighter in a neighboring town owns his own vending machine business and he has both candy machines. He keeps them full and makes a little cash on the side. Works out good for everyone.
    Jason Knecht
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    Altoona, WI

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    Dickey, that is what I'm shooting for. A machine we own and we control but I want to make sure it's not to big of a hassle to be worth it. Next step would be a vending machine but one thing at a time.

    Thanks guys,
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    I just did a search on ebay... for a few hundred, you can get a really nice one.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Thanks ChiefKN, I hadn't gotten that far yet. I just want to make sure it's worth it from an ownership point of view before going farther.
    Train like you want to fight.
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    We have a soda machine at our station that is available to the public. We use the money we make off the sales to provide free sodas and water to our members. It also provides funds to keep snacks, etc around for meetings and trainings. Our machine is provided by our local soda distributor, we buy the drinks from them, they service it when it needs some attention. An all around plus for us.

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    Our support group used the machines to raise funds, works pretty well.

    And after a good working fire, they open up the machine and hand out free drinks. They are our support group after all.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

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    We had one at Vienna. A pop machine.



    Oh ya... and at Malahat, it was who ever opted to be "bartender" that night. :
    Last edited by MalahatTwo7; 01-01-2010 at 08:44 PM.
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    I'm not directly involved with ours, but I don't believe we own the machines. I think they are essentially on loan to us by the distributor as long as we buy the drinks from them. We take care of stocking them and such. Not sure on the repair end of things.

    It's definately been worth it for us and a lot of the money we make isn't coming out of our pockets. We have 3 machines outside of our stations. One sits at the corner of the station next to a bus stop. One sits behind our other station. We stock that with some sports drinks too and it gets a pretty good work out from the people using the basketball court behind our station. The other sits in front of the station and probably gets used less by the public, but still does ok.

    It pays for a lot of stuff for the stations that we wouldn't otherwise get from the City, like new furniture, new TVs, new mattresses, pots & pans, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFWALT View Post
    Have you guys had any problems with the machines breaking down or in need of maintenance? We already have someone that stocks the training grounds and one of the benefits of a machine is the amount of product it holds.
    After I left my old department,they got coke machines for sodas and still kept the old honor system for rehab "qualified" drinks like Gatorade(tm)and the like.The money goes for new drinks paying for the machines.
    I am told there's new member who also works for the local Coke(tm) distrubutor who maintains the machinery with used but serviceable parts.As long as they still work and it's not a critical system,I guess.
    Geedunks(Navy talk for chips,cookies and candy)usually only come out during training when someone wants to be a "one dog one bone mutha" and not eat what the Chief whomped up for supper as the department still doesn't supply them from a machine.

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    Many of our firehouses have either a Soda machine inside or outside. We have a Coke products machine out back and a Pepsi products machine out front. Both are accessable to the public. $.50/can. Can't beat that. Helped our firehouse purchase a new 50" TV!

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    FFWALT...


    If you own the machine, you can put whatever you want in it. Some brands will not like being next to other brands but they have no control over it. The only thing they can control is their logo, if your machine has Coke on it and you serve Pepsi, they can make you take their logo down but that's all.
    Jason Knecht
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    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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    http://www.cheddarvision.tv/
    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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    Just a related story that an old timer told me once. He is a retired Lieutenant from a major east coast city (won't mention any names to protect the guilty....) that is the 5th largest fire department in the country located in southeastern Pennsylvania.

    A station (that wont be identified) that is located less than a block from one of the largest Catholic High Schools in said city, had a kitty set up in a room just off of their kitchen, which had a side door. Said Catholic High School is located in a neighborhood where it is a pretty good walk to the nearest convenience store of any kind. The Engine/Truck/Medic Unit was moving sodas, candy, ice cream, etc. at such an astounding rate that their kitty's bank account was rumored to have grown into 5 figures. The interior of their station was supposedly "Waldorf Astoria Like" when compared to the stations throughout the rest of the city. They even detailed off-duty guys and/or wives to man the kitty at certain hours (lunchtime and afternoons) just in case if there were runs requiring all three units to be out of quarters. In short, they were making buckets of money.

    -That is, until the IRS found out about it!
    Last edited by FWDbuff; 01-02-2010 at 10:15 PM.
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    i guess i'm lucky... our fire department has a vending machine but it vends the pure goodness of sundrop and i'm not talking about the cocacola made junk but the good stuff made by choice cola.
    Originally Posted by the1141man
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    We used to have a Coke machine, but after a big call we'd always open it up and hand out the drinks for free. Eventually everyone knew where the key was and it would get opened after smaller calls, drills, etc. as well. So we finally just did away with the machine altogether and now we keep an old fridge stocked with soft drinks, Gatorade, and water, complimentary, so to speak. It's a little perk of membership and since no one gets paid here we figure it's a small price to pay to keep the troops happy.

    There's also a refrigerator mounted in our rescue/service truck, which is kept full of water and Gatorade for on-scene.
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    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
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