Calif. city approves $6M budget to purchase fire engines, ladder trucks

Fire officials said the Pierce proposal allows them to reap the benefits of standardization with a company that has had an excellent track record with the city

By Kevin Valine
The Modesto Bee

MODESTO, Calif. — The Modesto City Council approved Tuesday night a proposal to spend nearly $6 million over 10 years to lease five engines and two ladder trucks, which officials says will help the Fire Department upgrade its aging fleet.

Council members voted 7-0 in favor of the proposal. Mayor Ted Brandvold said while it has merits he questioned whether the proposal is the best use of public funding.

“I don’t feel it fully meets the standards that our taxpayers expect of us,” he said, adding Modesto needs a better policy to ensure something like this does not happen again.

Modesto did not go out to bid for this proposal, instead relying on competitive bidding performed by the Houston-Galveston Area Council. A city consultant told council members that government agencies across the United States, including Modesto, use the H-GAC.

Purchasing consultant David Lewis with Management Partners said Modesto was not likely to get better results if it had done its own competitive bidding.

The Fire Department will be getting Pierce Manufacturing engines and trucks. PNC Equipment Finance will purchase the equipment from Pierce on behalf of the city and then lease the equipment to the city for $598,538 annually over 10 years. Modesto could purchase all of the equipment at the end of the lease by paying $954,214, bringing the total cost to about $6.9 million.

But officials with Modesto-based Burton’s Fire — a dealer for Rosenbauer, one of Pierce’s competitors — questioned some of the details of the proposal and asked the city for the opportunity to bid on it.

Brandvold said Modesto essentially piggy-backed off the bidding results of another agency and picked the bid results it wanted to use and not the lowest bid. A Burton’s Fire official said the Rosenbauer bid with H-GAC for a basic fire engine was about $25,000 lower than the Pierce bid.

And other council members said Modesto needs to ensure going forward that local companies are given a chance to compete for the city’s business.

But city officials said there are other benefits in picking Pierce. The Fire Department’s 12 engines and three ladder trucks are all from Pierce. Fire officials say the proposal allows them to reap the benefits of standardization with a company that has had an excellent track record with the city.

The Fire Department should start receiving the Pierce equipment within about a year. The first lease payment is due October 2017. Modesto would need to take $598,538 from its general fund to make the first payment.

The department expects to make the remaining payments through savings from reduced maintenance costs, proceeds from selling older equipment and funding that will become available once Modesto pays off the purchases of two other engines and a brush truck.

Copyright 2016 The Modesto Bee 

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