Panel OKs bid process for new fire truck
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | April 12,2013
The Rutland City Fire Department assembled a 102-page list of specifications for the new fire truck they want to buy.
“I went through all of them,” Alderman Ed Larson said as he opened his first meeting as chairman of the Public Safety Committee. “They’ve got it down to a science. ... From the chair’s opinion, they have not missed anything.”
That was enough for the rest of the committee, which voted unanimously to recommend the Board of Aldermen allow the department to send the truck purchase out to bid and fund it from the department’s equipment replacement fund.
Acting Chief Brad LaFaso said a committee within the department drew up the specifications for the replacement of the 1992 pumper truck, which he said is one of the department’s most-used vehicles. He said repairs have gotten expensive. The department has a $48,000 vehicle maintenance budget and LaFaso said it is routinely overspent.
“We’ve been putting a lot of money into it and that money could be better spent elsewhere,” he said.
Larson said the equipment replacement fund had $782,000 in it as of Monday. LaFaso said he did not want to tip off potential bidders by publicizing what he expects the truck to cost, but did say the fund should be sufficient.
Nobody at the meeting suggested the city should not buy the truck. Alderwoman Sharon Davis did ask if the specs could be tweaked if the bids come in high.
“Somewhat,” LaFaso replied. “This is tight for what our operations are.”
Alderman Gary Donahue said this was probably a purchase in which the city did not want to cut corners, drawing a comment from Alderman John Cassarino that the board still has to bear in mind what the city can afford.
“You have to look at what you have in your pocket — champagne or beer,” he said.
LaFaso said he has four potential bidders whose work he trusts, but that numerous companies assemble fire trucks of varying quality. With that in mind, he asked if the city had to take the low bid. Board President David Allaire said the Board of Finance, which makes those decisions, has discretion.
“The Board of Finance weighs very heavily the recommendation that comes from the fire department,” he said.
LaFaso said the pumper truck was not the oldest vehicle in the department’s fleet. That distinction, he said, belongs to the platform truck used at every high-rise call.
“That’s another issue we’re going to have to look at a couple years down the road,” he said.