The Apparatus Architect: Part 2 - Working With Fire Department Resources

Tom Shand and Michael Wilbur discuss the makeup of an apparatus purchasing committee and how it can work to acquire apparatus meeting its department's requirements.


In our August article we presented concepts regarding the process of designing and writing specifications for a new piece of apparatus. This installment will discuss the makeup of an apparatus purchasing committee and how it can work to acquire apparatus meeting its department's requirements. An...


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Fire department administrative personnel may wish to participate in the specification development and their input should not be overlooked. Appointing personnel to the apparatus committee can in itself become a daunting task unless the individual responsible for the formation of the group clearly has the responsibility and organizational authority to initiate these actions. A well-meaning initial action can get the entire process off on the wrong foot if someone within the organization feels that he or she is being excluded from providing input or offering another perspective to the process.

Several techniques can be used to reduce the risk that an individual or group of people within the department can be alienated by the committee selection process.

One method is to provide an avenue for input by any member to direct information and comments to the appointed committee. A log book or e-mail site can be designated to allow formal comments and suggestions to be submitted to the apparatus committee. Minutes of all meetings should be posted prominently to provide updates to the members of the department on the progress of the committee.

A feedback system should be developed to provide for a committee response to members who provide input to the group and how their comments were taken under consideration. Having an apparatus architect on hand, one who has gone though this part of the process before, can help smooth out the rough edges and get your committee off to a great start.

In our next installment we will help you start the process of gathering information for your new apparatus.


Tom Shand is a firefighter with the Onondaga Hill Volunteer Fire Department in Syracuse, NY, and a senior instructor at the Onondaga County Fire Rescue Institute. He is employed by American LaFrance and is assigned to the company's Hamburg Facility in the apparatus sales department. Michael Wilbur, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, assigned to Ladder Company 27 in the Bronx. He has served for the past five years on the FDNY Apparatus Purchasing Committee. Wilbur also has consulted on a variety of apparatus-related issues throughout the country.