After 20 years of service, Seymour Fire Department is ready to retire Engine 2.
On Thursday, Fire Chief Brad Lucas asked the city’s Board of Public Works and Safety to spend $450,000 to buy a replacement.
Instead of the typical bidding process, however, Lucas recommended the city instead allow a consortium out of Texas to do the bidding, saving the city around $50,000.
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“It is a perfectly legal way to do it,” he said. “This is a method that a lot of other cities are using now.”
The city would pay the Houston-Galveston Area Council a fee for the service, but the overall cost would be a significant savings because the consortium bids vehicles, including police cars, trash trucks and other municipal vehicles, in bulk to lower the price, Lucas said.
“They price the trucks, get bids and quotes from all the manufacturers, and then we select which one best suits our needs,” he said.
Mayor Craig Luedeman and the rest of the board said they had no issue with using the consortium but favored borrowing money from a local bank instead of financing the truck through the manufacturer.
“I talked to some local banks, and they were ecstatic to get the option to bid,” Luedeman said. “They wanted to help the city.”
Officials have been talking about replacing the truck for a few years now, Lucas said. He added 20 years is the normal life expectancy of a fire truck.
“Two years ago, it cost us $8,000 just to get some brake work done on it because the parts weren’t available. They had to be manufactured,” he said.
The truck would be kept as a reserve, and the department plans to get rid of a 1976 ladder truck.
Lucas said the department’s other trucks are in good shape but will need replaced in five to 10 years.
Ladder 1, which is an aerial truck and the department’s largest, was purchased in 1997 and will cost more than $1 million to replace.
“Our goal is to keep it 25 years,” Lucas said.
He has spent the past few years researching options for how the city could go about buying a new pumper truck and what kind of savings were available.
Pumper trucks are those that carry a water supply with them instead of having to draw water from a hydrant.
Right now, Engine 2 holds 500 gallons of water. The new truck will hold 750 gallons, Lucas said.
The plan is to use Pierce out of Wisconsin to build the new fire engine, instead of KME, which is the manufacturer of the current Engine 2. That way, all of the department’s front-line engines will be the same.
“It just makes it easier when it comes to maintenance,” he said.
The timing on approving the purchase is important because the price of the truck will go up by $13,000 after April 16, Lucas added.
It will take nine months to a year before the truck is finished and delivered to the city.
“You can agree to purchase it now, but you don’t have to pay for it until it’s delivered,” city attorney Rodney Farrow said.
If the city wanted to prepay the amount, there would be an additional $16,000 in savings.
Farrow said he wouldn’t want to pay for a vehicle now that he couldn’t use for nine months and thought it would be better to wait to pay until the truck’s delivery.
Board of Works member and city council President Jim Rebber said by paying now the city would be tying up a large amount of money and paying interest on it.
Lucas said the fire department does not have the total cost built into its budget but can make payments from the city’s cumulative capital development fund.