By Roz Kohls
DASSEL, MN The Dassel Fire Department reconsidered its rejection of the pumper truck bid it received in December from Custom Fire Apparatus of Osceola, WI.
Firefighters decided they might give up a deck water gun, some hose, receiver hitches for stabilization, and a service contract from the specifications to get the price down to a total of $485,000, Fire Chief Dale Grochow said last Monday in a report to the city council.
Before the council makes a decision, however, the council directed City Administrator Myles McGrath to make number projections of a worst-case scenario from the expected local government aid to be cut this year. McGrath estimated the city will lose $150,000 from the $400,000 the city was allotted, he said.
Council Member Bob Wilde said, though, that no one can predict what the cuts will be, and when the city will know what the cuts are.
Mayor Mike Scanlon asked, can the city afford a $500,000 pumper truck? Can it pay off the loan in the future?
Once the council has projections to review, Scanlon will call a special meeting, McGrath said.
Grochow said the representative from Custom Fire, Wade Kirvida, told him the company will hold Custom Fire’s bid of $491,900 open until Jan. 31, because Kirvida knew the department needed more time and information.
Fire departments all over the country were rushing to make decisions about fire trucks in December because new standards kicked in Jan. 1 that raised prices. Prices for the chassis increase $6,000 every quarter, new Environmental Protection Agency emission standards will add to the cost, manufacturing costs will increase 3 to 4 percent, and the National Fire Protection Agency standards, alone, will increase the price $20,000, Kirvida told Grochow.
“It’s not going to get cheaper,” Grochow said.
In addition to Grochow, firefighters Dave Johnson, Kurt Mortenson and DJ Ohm reported on the department’s recent reconsideration. Out of 27 members, 23 voted in favor of moving ahead with the acquisition of the Custom Fire truck.
One of the main reasons the department wanted to work with Custom Fire in setting up the specifications for the bids, was it provided stainless steel, bolted construction of the truck, instead of welded construction. The equipment committee had investigated extensively other manufacturers, and Custom Fire was the only company they found that had it.
“That was an important part to us,” Grochow said.
Grochow also wanted a company rep to help put the specifications together, because he doesn’t feel qualified to write the specs himself, he said.
In December, firefighters rejected the truck in a 21-7 vote, mainly because there was only one bid.
“An awful lot of communities received only one bid,” McGrath said.
Grochow estimated that manufacturers in five states saw Dassel’s advertisement for bids.
Dassel mailed the specifications to five companies, but Custom Fire was the only one that responded, McGrath said.
Both Scanlon and Council Member Bob Lalone expressed concern about being rushed to make a decision about the truck before Jan. 31. They both also said they wanted to call for bids again, or at least get more information about prices, so they can compare at least two manufacturers.
“We need to do our due diligence,” Scanlon said.
Maybe now that the big push to beat the Jan. 1 deadline is over, manufacturers will have more time to devote to Dassel’s truck, he added.
Public Works Director Dave Scepaniak pointed out, however, that Custom Fire’s bid has been publicized, and now its competitors can unfairly adjust their bids accordingly.
In addition, Grochow said if the city delays too long, other fire department capital expenses in the future, such as a tanker truck, will be bumped back also. It will be expensive to try to pay for two or more vehicles at a time, he added.