Sharon Sells from Mile High Fire Apparatus in Erie attended a Fort Morgan City Council meeting to advocate for her company’s losing bid.
While her company had placed a low bid, that was not the only consideration the council ultimately used to make their decision to award the bid for a higher-priced contract to Front Range Fire of Frederick.
The fire department was seeking to replace a 1971 Mack pumper truck that “no longer has been able to keep up with its pump testing,” according to Fort Morgan Fire Chief Erik Christensen, and replace it with the 1989 truck as the department’s third truck. The current first one would slide back to second, and the new one would be the main pumper truck for fighting city fires.
Sells argued that the bid request did not specify certain things that may have changed the way she placed the bid or what equipment or particular systems were included. She also said that she had been told by the city that bidding out a truck of a different brand than the top preference would not mean automatic exclusion.
However, Sells’ bid for a Smeal chassis rather than a Pierce one was one of the factors in the Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department Truck Committee’s reasoning for recommending Front Range Fire’s more expensive bid.
That was not the only reason, though, and the council made sure they understood why the department wanted the more expensive fire truck.
Councilwoman Christine Castoe first asked Cecil why the recommendation from the firefighters was for the most expensive bid.
“That one is $100,000 more than the others. Can you explain why?” she asked Cecil.
“This process, these books are just the end product,” volunteer firefighter Tony Cecil said, indicating all the research materials the FMFD Truck Committee had gathered to makeits recommendation.
He said that the committee had used four years of around 35 firefighters’ experiences on fire scenes, trips to global fire expos and other information gathering to make the recommendation.
“We know what an honor it is to get a new fire apparatus, but with that honor comes responsibility,” Cecil said. “We’re in a life-and-death business, whether it’s volunteer or not. We depend on systems next to us. The reason the apparatus we’re recommending is so much higher is it is the only apparatus that meets the requirements of the Fort Morgan Fire Department. That’s on multiple levels.”
He explained that having different types of apparatus could cause problems or waste time by not having it be the same to fight different fires with the various trucks.
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