Purchasing a new fire truck for your department can be a daunting task. From determining your department’s needs, meeting with manufacturers, planning apparatus specifications, and securing financial support from your community’s apparatus committee. Let’s discuss ways to ensure you’ve covered all your bases before purchasing your department’s next apparatus.
Determining Your Department’s Needs
Before purchasing a new apparatus, your department needs to assess your extensive needs. These needs include:
- Replace an aging apparatus
- Modernize fire department fleet
- Increase operator/occupant safety
- Acquire features and functions not available on older apparatus
- Increase reliability/reduce downtime
- Reduce annual operating costs
“In my opinion, the key to acquiring any vehicle is acquiring the right one for the job and intended purpose. This might seem like a simple concept; however, any vehicle acquisition will be unsuccessful if the final product does not fulfill its intended mission from an operational, cost, safety, and acceptance standpoint,” said John Clements, manager, fleet operations San Diego County Fire Department.
It is important to have an open and competitive bidding process. You want to ensure that your department will purchase a quality apparatus that meets your needs and price. The bidding process begins with creating a specification document.
Prepare the Document
The specification document entails what products your department is looking for. This document will help choose the right and cost-efficient manufacturer for the job.
Choosing the Right Manufacturer
Choosing the right truck and manufacturer is half the battle. The type of disasters your department faces and the region you are located in should be considered when choosing your next fire truck manufacturer. For example, BME specializes in wildland vehicles, manufacturing apparatus for rural departments that respond to brush and wildfires: CAL FIRE, BLM, USFS, etc.
The cost associated with purchasing a new apparatus can be high, especially for more rural departments. This can make it difficult to justify to policymakers, especially if they fail to realize the total value of rescue vehicles. Fire chiefs and administrators need to have a cost-benefit analysis, such as maintenance costs, that can be used to back their investment in purchasing new mobile equipment.
One part of the purchasing process is the pre-construction conference, which allows the department heads to view the construction of the new apparatus before being built. The pre-construction meeting is where all vehicle details are reviewed and provides the opportunity to determine final design configurations for dashboard, cab seating, pump panel, and interior body compartments. Pre-construction conferences are typically held at the manufacturer’s plant, where the department heads will have the ability to tour the facility. This allows the buyer access to the multiple engineering and support personnel responsible for producing your new apparatus.
A final factory apparatus inspection represents many months, if not years, of planning, communicating, and negotiation. Keep a running list of discrepancies or questions as you go through the inspection. As you review the apparatus and find concerns, make sure you write them down and discuss them with your representative at the end of each inspection session.
Purchasing a new apparatus for your department is no easy task, but choosing the right manufacturer can make the process easier. BME Fire Trucks opened its doors in 1990 and has been serving the fire industry and firefighters for 30 years. We are dedicated to providing customers with individualized design options and exceptional craftsmanship with the highest safety standards and best durability in the market. We understand that fire and rescue departments face special challenges related to their unique environments, so we are committed to innovating to make better fire trucks that exceed your expectations.