Alan M. Petrillo
Three Missouri fire departments-each needing to replace one or more pieces of apparatus-recently got together and formed a purchasing alliance that ended up saving each of them tens of thousands of dollars per unit when they purchased seven pumpers from a single manufacturer. The neighboring departments were able to craft the pumper specifications to allow for a base unit they all agreed on yet have the flexibility to choose from 49 options for equipment to include on their own pumpers.
The Springfield (MO) Fire Department purchased four identical pumpers from Rosenbauer, the Republic (MO) Fire Department bought two identical rigs, and the Nixa (MO) Fire Protection District purchased one pumper. The departments estimate they saved approximately $30,000 on each pumper through the joint purchase.
Crafting the Specs
Dave Pennington, assistant chief at the Springfield (MO) Fire Department, says the chief officers have known each other for several years but hadn’t considered a joint purchase of apparatus until they were at an event together and realized each department was contemplating buying pumpers. “We discussed the possibility of getting together to purchase the pumpers and, once we agreed, took the idea to Springfield’s purchasing director Jim Tillman, who had experience doing joint purchases when he worked in Florida,” Pennington says. “He was very familiar with a large-scale event like this and got us the permission to proceed.”
Pennington says the three departments set up a committee to write pumper specifications, “trying for a plain vanilla spec because we wanted as many bidders as possible.” Seventeen apparatus manufacturers came to the joint prebid conference, and 11 manufacturers eventually submitted bids. The departments awarded the contract to Rosenbauer.
Steve Reedy, vice president and general manager of Rosenbauer’s Minnesota division, says the bodies and chassis on all seven pumpers are the same-Spartan MetroStar chassis with four-person cabs. The pumps, water tanks, and body configurations on all the apparatus are the same too-Waterous CSU pumps, 750-gallon tanks, and 30-gallon foam cells with FoamPro systems.
“Springfield and Nixa chose to have 1,500-gallon-per-minute (gpm) pumps on their pumpers, while Republic went with a 2,000-gpm Waterous pump,” Reedy says. “All the pumpers have foam on them, but Springfield chose to change to a Waterous 200 Platinum compressed air foam system (CAFS) for its units, as well as adding our Green Star auxiliary power unit (APU).”
Pennington points out that Springfield “is finding that our CAFS pumpers are tremendously effective. There’s less water consumption, less water damage, and the guys are getting quicker knockdowns.”
|(1) Three Missouri fire departments purchased seven pumpers on a single contract but were able to choose from 49 equipment options to the base chassis and cab configurations. Chiefs and committee members responsible for making the purchase happen pose in front of the seven pumpers in Springfield, Missouri. [Photo courtesy of the Springfield (MO) Fire Department.]|
Pete Leizer, account manager for MaxFire Firefighting Apparatus, which sold the pumpers to the three departments, says that multiple purchase orders are not ordinary and can be challenging in terms of keeping everything straight for all those involved. “But, we and Rosenbauer’s people sat down and listened to their needs, then offered solutions for them,” Leizer says. “With this order, it was satisfying their base platform and then putting out the menu of options where each department could choose to meet its specific mission.”
Duane Compton, chief of the Republic (MO) Fire Department, says his department’s last purchase of new apparatus was in 1995. “I’ve been here 10 years, and we have purchased five pieces of used apparatus on the secondary market in that time, so buying two new pumpers was a new concept for us,” he says. “Once we all agreed on the same chassis and body configuration, we laid out the rest of the spec like we were going to a car lot where we could choose from a lot of different options.”
Compton notes that Republic didn’t choose the same options as Springfield did for its pumpers. “Republic doesn’t run to a lot of working fires like Springfield does, so we couldn’t afford the added cost of CAFS and the APUs, which were options in the bid specs,” he says. “Instead, we chose to have an Onan 10-kW PTO-driven hydraulic generator and lots of halogen scene lighting. Nixa and Springfield went with LED scene lighting.”
Another difference among the pumpers can be found on the vehicles’ front bumpers. “Both Republic and Nixa operate in a more rural area than Springfield,” Compton points out, “so we sometimes have to go to drafting operations. Republic and Nixa took the option of adding a five-inch front intake.”
|(2) The Springfield (MO) Fire Department chose to add a Waterous 200 Platinum compressed air foam system (CAFS) to each of its four pumpers, along with Rosenbauer’s Green Star auxiliary power units (APUs). [Photo courtesy of the Springfield (MO) Fire Department.]|
Lloyd Walles, assistant chief of the Nixa (MO) Fire Protection District, says the district’s new Rosenbauer pumper has been very busy. “We put it in service in June and have been to two working fires with the pumper,” Walles says. “It’s done very well for us.” Walles adds that his firefighters especially like the safety features on the pumper such as lower crosslays and a lower hosebed.
Compton says his firefighters and officers also like the low hosebed on their pumpers. “It’s important to keep everything low on pumpers,” he says. “We’re concerned about the staff crawling around on top of the truck or having to reach above their heads for equipment.”
Republic’s pumpers carry two low crosslays holding 200 feet of 1¾-inch hose. The hosebed carries 1,000 feet of five-inch large-diameter hose (LDH), 400 feet of 2½-inch hose, and 200 feet of 2½-inch attached to an Elkhart Brass RAM ground monitor, Compton says.
|(3) The Republic (MO) Fire Department purchased two Rosenbauer pumpers (shown here) in the seven-pumper contract with the Springfield (MO) Fire Department and the Nixa (MO) Fire Protection District. Springfield bought four pumpers and Nixa purchased one, similarly outfitted like the Republic rigs but with Code 3 LED warning lights instead of Whelen LEDs. [Photo courtesy of the Republic (MO) Fire Department.]|
Ease of Use
An added benefit of purchasing two identical engines, Compton points out, is the ease of use. “The number one thing I heard from our firefighters and officers was that building two pumpers in identical fashion made operations much more efficient,” he observes.
Walles notes that in terms of warning lighting on the Nixa rig, it went its own way. “Springfield and Republic each went with Whelen LED emergency lights,” he says, “but we were very pleased to have Code 3 LEDs put on our pumper.”
Walles adds that his department would “definitely do a multiple purchase like this again.” In fact, Walles says, Republic and Nixa are talking about purchasing two aerial ladders jointly. “We’re putting together an apparatus committee and having demonstrations run for our two departments,” he says.
Pennington agrees. “I would do this again in a minute if I have the opportunity to partner with one of the other agencies,” he says. “It’s a little bit more work up front but well worth the effort.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based freelance writer and is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.