By Lynda Jensen
DASSEL, MN Three bids came in for replacement of the Dassel Fire Department’s old yellow pumper truck, which is overdue to be replaced, according to Fire Chief Dale Grochow.
“Our old (pumper) truck is not dependable,” Grochow told the Enterprise recently about the department’s 1981 General pumper.
Three bids were gathered during an extended bidding process recently, in a price range between $440,000 and $490,000.
The fire department chose, and recommended to the council, the truck offered by Custom Fire of Osceola, WI.
Two other bids were received as well, one from E-One of Ocala, FL., and another from R-NOW of West Allis, WI.
The lowest bid was from R-NOW; however, they did not follow the specifications listed on the bidding sheet.
The truck offered by R-NOW isn’t for a stainless steel truck, but rather aluminum. “They bid aluminum because it’s cheaper to build,” Grochow observed.
Administrator Myles McGrath noted that using an aluminum truck in Minnesota weather is a bad idea. “Stainless steel has a lifetime warranty,” he said. “We really expect these trucks to last for 25 years.” Aluminum has a warranty for seven years.
They also had a lower height quoted for the roof, when the department wanted it higher, Grochow said.
The bid offered by R-NOW included substitutes that the fire department did not consider a good trade, Grochow said.
Each bid came in as follows:
• Custom Fire bid $491,550. This company followed the bids precisely, McGrath noted.
• E-One bid $442,000. This company shaved some features off of the specs, McGrath noted.
• R-NOW bid $429,650, but the offer contains an aluminum and not steel truck; amongst other issues.
The two bids from E-One and Custom Fire are actually within $20,000 of each other when the missing features are added back in, comparing “apples to apples,” McGrath said.
The issue of bid tampering by companies and legal troubles that may come of this was mentioned at the council meeting, since R-NOW didn’t follow the specs, by quoting a truck made of a different material.
Several members of the fire department were present to persuade the council to award the preferred bid.
However, the council wished to review the information.
“If we vote on this, we are effectively buying this product,” Mayor Mike Scanlon said. “The last thing we want to do is get into any legal trouble over this,” Scanlon said. “This is a big deal.”
The council decided to award the bid at a special meeting 6 p.m. tonight (Monday), Aug. 10. “We will have it done by next Monday,” Scanlon told the fire department members.
This prompted the fire department and other company representatives to leave the meeting at that time, thinking that the subject was overwith, since the council moved on to other subjects on the agenda.
However, at the very end of the meeting, representatives from R-NOW stopped Scanlon from adjourning the meeting, and brought up the subject all over again of truck bids, minus the presence of other interested parties.
The R-NOW reps spent about 10 to 15 minutes telling the council members about the positive aspects of their truck, which did not meet the specs that were quoted and was rejected by the fire department.
Grochow commented after the meeting that the fire department has written specs for, and seen trucks replaced, for all the vehicles in the department except this one during the 26 years he’s been on the department, and are familiar with specs for a bid on a truck. “We’ve bid a lot of trucks,” he said.