Natchez (MS) Fire Chief to Review Bids

The Natchez fire chief is reviewing specifications for a potential fire truck purchase as part of the city’s fire protection agreement with Adams County.

Natchez Fire Chief Oliver Stewart said while there may have been an initial miscommunication between himself and Adams County’s purchasing office about what specifications should be used for the purchase of the truck, that issue has been resolved and all of the potential bidders are working on the same page.

“It was all blown out of proportion,” he said. “The only thing that we require is that bidders meet what we are asking for.”

What the city requires is, in part, based on a 40-plus-page manual from the state fire marshal’s office, Stewart said.

Adams County is purchasing the truck for the city as part of its shared fire-protection agreement.

Adams County Purchasing Clerk Frances Bell said she submitted a short list of key provisions for bidders to review because the specifications the fire department wanted were incredibly extensive.

Adams County Board of Supervisors Attorney Scott Slover said while the process is competitive the county may not automatically choose the cheapest truck.

“The law requires that it is the lowest and best bid, and if a bid is better but more expensive, you can still do it if it is not just some tiny detail,” he said.

The fire agreement between the city and county does not specifically require the county to purchase a fire truck, Slover said. The language requires the city and county to apply together for fire fighting equipment grants, and if those do not come through for the county to purchase some kind of firefighting apparatus.

“We have never been in breach on that,” Slover said. “We need another fire truck out there, so what are you going to do? The board thinks that is a reasonable request, (the city) has three trucks they have purchased and we have purchased one, so it is probably our turn to buy another one.”

If the truck was needed on a specific timeline, it should have been specified in the shared fire agreement, Slover said, but he also believes the city will see a new truck soon.

The city’s requests have also been reasonable, he said.

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