Bay Minette (AL) Looks to Co-Op for Fire Apparatus

Bay Minette could save as much as $60,000 on its next fire truck by working through a purchasing cooperative.

Bay Minette Fire Chief Mike Minchew created the specifications for a pumper truck with additional storage compartments. He sent the specifications to the Houston-Galveston Area Council Cooperative Purchasing Program and got back a price of $388,137.

The chief sought out the purchasing cooperative as a way to solve several problems. First, it would allow the department to design the truck to get exactly what they want. It would also start a process of having all the trucks made by the same manufacturer.

“Our biggest problem is we don’t have enough compartment space on the truck to store all the stuff,” said Minchew. “So we have equipment strapped on the back and sides.”

Since 1995, the fire department has purchased trucks through a local vendor, but each time they bought a truck, it was a different brand. That has created some problems. The newest truck, a 2007 model has been in the shop for four months because the local vendor can’t work on it because they don’t sell that brand anymore.

“The other manufacturer is in Wisconsin and we’ve been trying to find a dealer who works with that manufacturer,” said Minchew. “We spent two months to get two rocker switches and a computer board.”

By going through the cooperative, the city would buy direct from the factory, which is located in Louisiana. Not only would it reduce the delivery time (90 days), it would solve the problem of replacement parts or finding someone to work on the truck.

Even though the purchasing cooperative is based in another state, any government entity can join. The co-op works like the state bid list. The co-op goes out and solicits bids on a variety of things, from fire trucks to flashlight to copy paper to paper clips. Members of the cooperative can then order directly from the suppliers, without going through the bid process themselves.

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