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City reworking overly-specific bids for 2 replacement trucks

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Columbus Fire Chief Dave Allmon has begun to push forward again with his plans to gradually replace the department’s aging fleet.

That plan was derailed late last year when the city advertised bids that were too specific — limiting the ability of companies to submit bids for the two trucks the city hoped to purchase late in late 2013.

Allmon said bid specifications for the pumper and the quint — a combination engine and ladder truck — have been reworked to be less proprietary.

He said companies initially planning to bid on the truck were not given enough time to come up with good bids.

The specifications came from a new bid-preparation process that left bidders with 143 pages of specifications for the pumper and 164 pages for the quint. The specifications detailed every aspect of the trucks including items such as the brand of radio chargers.

Allmon said city officials will meet with potential bidders after the mayor and Board of Public Works and Safety approves specifications for advertising.

“That should happen in the next couple of weeks,” Allmon said of the advertising process.

He said bidders will be given a chance to sharpen their pencils and come up with competitive pricing over a 30-day period.

The city council already has played its role in the process by approving $1.25 million to be used for the purchases. This past year, $1.2 million had been set aside for the purchases, but that money reverted into the general fund.

The additional appropriation was necessary because the purchase price was not included in the 2014 budget, Allmon said.

“Our newest piece of equipment is a 2008 (model),” said Allmon said, who was named chief in September 2012. “I inherited an aging fleet, and it’s really been taxing on our mechanic.”

The oldest piece of a equipment is a 1982 pumper, currently held in reserve.

Allmon said that piece of equipment is so old new firefighters have to receive special training to use it.

“It’s one of the first ones we’ll look at getting rid of,” he said.

He said to keep the department’s 10-unit fleet updated, he also plans to request funds for the purchase of a new truck next year for the 93-member department.

“And I want to purchase one new a year after that as long as I’m here,” Allmon said.

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