Sealed offers to sell the city a replacement for the Fire Department’s aging aerial truck are due June 19 as part of a process that will give city councilors three meetings to make up their minds after those proposals are opened.
Launched at the council’s directive last week, the process gives vendors 28 days to respond to a newly released request for proposals for new or used aerial trucks that meet established specifications.
Councilors haven’t ruled out repairing the city’s 22-year-old tower truck and have requested additional estimates for that option. The expectation is that information will be in hand by the time bids arrive.
Doing nothing is always an option, though councilors appear convinced that something must be done to correct an electrical glitch that occasionally plagues the current tower truck.
Three alternatives have emerged, and two of them involve replacing the custom-built tower truck.
The council recently was presented a proposal to buy a slightly used aerial truck from the same New Hampshire firm that sold the city its last two fire engines. Councilors have until July 12 to accept that $610,000 offer. The demonstration truck in question meets all of the specifications that were recently mailed to a dozen manufacturers, dealers and brokers at the council’s request.
Unwilling to bypass the bidding process to accept what they were told was a favorable offer, councilors secured a 60-day extension that will lock in the price while they shop around.
Councilors are also interested in obtaining quotes for new aerial trucks, which would be built to the city’s specifications, as well as off-the-lot options like the demonstration truck.
The proposed schedule should give the council ample time to weigh those options. Bids will be opened June 19, and Public Safety Director Tim Bombardier will give City Manager Steve Mackenzie his recommendation June 22. On June 23, Mackenzie will share that recommendation, as well as the bid results, with councilors during the first of three meetings at which the aerial truck is expected to be discussed.
Mackenzie said letting councilors review their options in an unrushed way June 30 and July 7 should put them in a position to decide whether to accept any of the bids or the standing offer for the HME demo truck before that offer expires July 12.
One notable specification for any replacement aerial truck is that it provide additional reach. The current tower truck, designed to fit in the old fire station that was originally built for horses, has a 70-foot reach. The city is looking for at least a 100-foot aerial, and the truck it has on hold has a 109-foot reach.
Among the other notable specifications are seating for at least four (the current truck seats two), a stainless steel body and subframe, at least a 500-horsepower engine, and an optional pump that can handle between 1,250 and 1,750 gallons of water per minute.
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