Workshop explores process for buying firetrucks

TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

The Plainville Town Council and Fire Department Chiefs held a workshop to discuss the purchasing of two new fire trucks—one tower and one pumper engine—authorized by referendum to cost no more than a total of $2.1 million.

In the December council meeting, Town Manager Robert Lee explained that two bids had been received. The first, “was submitted by Greenwood Emergency Vehicles of North Attleboro, Massachusetts in the amount of $640,484,” and the second was from Bulldog Fire Apparatus of Bozrah, Connecticut “submitted a price of $674,670.”

Deputy Fire Chief Tom Moschini Sr., explained that while the Bulldog KME apparatus “seems to be a little bit more pricey,” the Greenwood bid “had missed quite a few different items in their specifications that didn’t meet to what we wanted.”

Upon request of the Council, the Fire Department had gone back to Bulldog Fire Apparatus to discuss pricing. Lee reported on Wednesday, Jan. 23, that “KME (brand of fire apparatus) came up with a proposal that said if you bought two trucks,” and had ordered the second truck by late March, “they could provide some initial savings by buying two trucks at the same time.”

Lee also said that KME felt the “tower would come in significantly less than the $1.5 million that was estimated many years ago.”

Fire Chief Kevin Toner explained some of the preference for choosing the Bulldog KME bid, saying “some of the loyalty that we have to KME is the lengths they’ve gone to provide excellent service to us.” Toner also referenced information provided by Lee – KME has been the “lowest responsible bidder,” each of the five times the Town has gone out to bid on a fire truck since 1994.

Council Chair Kathy Pugliese said, “through our ordinances, whenever the Town Council is going to enter into a purchase or contract, anything over $25,000 needs to go out to bid.” Lee reminded the Council, “the ordinance does allow the Council to waive the bid process if they feel it’s in the best interest of the community.”

Pugliese shared her concerns with the wording of a letter from KME that read, “the total purchase price for both units should fall well within the budgeted amount of $2.1 million.” Pugliese said that she felt the use of “should,” and not some sort of guarantee, made her hesitant to waive the process of going out to bid.

Chief Toner said it was the Town of Plainville’s responsibility that ensure that the trucks do not surpass the budget, not the company’s responsibility.

City Councilors Jesse Gnazzo, Ty Cox, Danny Carrier, Christopher Wazorko, and vice chair Deborah Tompkins believed that the Council should waive the bid process, with Wazorko saying, “And, we have taken advantage of that,” but not to this financial extent.

Deputy Chief Moschini said that after being able to inspect the ladder trucks from both of the bidders the Truck Committee felt “that we can easily get that truck for under the $2.1 million. We’re talking like $1.4 [million].” Moschini said he believes both trucks can be purchased for that price.

No vote was needed at this time, but Lee said the topic would be scheduled for the next meeting, in which the Council has been recommended to award the bid to Bulldog and KME.

 To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.