Minnesota Cities Magazine
More from Sep-Oct 2017 issue

Cooperative Contract Brings Christmas in June to Staples Fire Department

By Chelsea Ornelas

It’s mid-June 2017, and the Staples Fire Station is awash with excitement.

“This is like Christmas,” says Donald Brusewitz, volunteer firefighter. Christmas? In June?

Firefighters and their families, the mayor, and members of the community have been swinging by just to catch a glimpse, maybe even climb aboard.

Climb aboard what? What’s the attraction?

The Staples Fire Department's shiny new pumper truck.A brand new, custom-built Rosenbauer two-door commercial top control FX pumper truck.

Fire Chief Scott Braith says the department has been working on getting the new truck for two years. The first year included lots of research and conceptualizing, with the actual order placed last May. It took a year—and lots of collaboration with the manufacturer—to build the truck. After all that, it’s no wonder the department’s fired up.

“This is just a huge benefit to the community to have three good, usable, and dependable trucks,” Braith says. “We’d been down to just two pumper trucks for about a year. Our old truck (from 1980), was taken out of service a year ago because nobody wanted to go into a house, or anything burning, with it. You just couldn’t trust it.”

Possible through cooperative contract
The City of Staples purchased the new truck for the Fire Department through a cooperative contract from Heiman Fire Equipment, a Rosenbauer dealership based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. With the cooperative purchasing process, they were able to efficiently purchase their firetruck without having to go out for bid. This means they got what they wanted quickly and in a more cost-effective manner.

Using the contract saved the city at least $10,000 on the purchase, plus thousands more in the time, energy, and resources it would’ve taken to go through the traditional bid process. The cooperative had already conducted the competitive solicitation process on behalf of all its members and awarded Rosenbauer as a contracted vendor.

Focus on customization
Because the purchasing process was so easy, the city was able to focus its efforts on building the truck. They ended up with a custom-designed truck with enhanced safety and efficiency features, setting the department up to more effectively carry out its mission of serving the central-Minnesota city and its surrounding townships.

“First and foremost is always safety,” Braith says of the initial planning stages. “For example, on our other pumper, the ladders are up on top in a compartment. You have to crawl up there and pull them out. The big one up there probably weighs a couple hundred pounds, and you’re pulling that out over your head.”

Ladders on the new truck are also housed up top, but raise, lower, and adjust with the push of a button. All the lights are LED, making the truck more visible when heading out to a call, and giving firefighters better lighting once on-site.

The new truck includes more spotlights and lighting options, including an automated and fully adjustable center- mounted spotlight.

Mixing familiar with new
Braith says the committee had the manufacturer configure the pump hookup sites to match its former main pumper, a Rosenbauer from 1997. This will make for a smoother transition.

There are a few custom upgrades between the pump system on the older truck and the new, however. On the 1997, the pump controls are at ground level and on one side of the truck, making communication and operation a challenge. On the new truck, the control panel is up on a platform between the cab and tank of the truck, giving operators an elevated 360-degree view.

The entire pump system—hose nozzles, hookup sites, levers, and gauges—is color coordinated. “This way when someone’s got the hose and they tell you to shut down the green nozzle—there, that’s the one,” Braith says, pointing to a green lever.

Braith says the purchasing part of the project was straightforward. The fire department got the exact brand and model of truck it needed, complete with the desired customizations.

“We knew we wanted a Rosenbauer truck, and we knew they were on [the cooperative] contract,” Braith says. “I asked our salesman what we needed to do, and he told us we all we had to do was be a member of the cooperative. From there, it was very simple.”

Chelsea Ornelas is public relations specialist with National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA). NJPA (NJPAcoop.org) is a member of the League’s Business Leadership Council (www.lmc.org/sponsors).

Read the Sep-Oct 2017 issue of Minnesota Cities magazine

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