By Ann McCreary
After receiving only one bid for a new fire vehicle, Okanogan County Fire District 6 commissioners decided to advertise again in hopes of getting additional bids.
At the fire district’s regular meeting on Feb. 12, some citizens questioned whether commissioners should accept the bid without other competing bids. In a special meeting on Monday (Feb. 26), called to discuss further advertising for bids, commissioners decided the district will advertise locally and in Wenatchee, and contact several fire vehicle manufacturing companies directly to ask if they are interested in receiving the bid specifications.
The district plans to order a “light rescue/support” vehicle that is similar to an ambulance, said Fire Chief Cody Acord. The vehicle would provide support to firefighters at fire scenes by providing an enclosed space to rest and cool off in the summer or warm up in winter. The vehicle would also be equipped to refill compressed air bottles at fire scenes, Acord said.
The district initially advertised in the local newspaper, the Methow Valley News, as required by state law, and received one bid of $194,000 from General Fire Apparatus in Spokane, a company that has provided vehicles to the district in the past. When some people attending the commissioner’s meeting questioned whether the district might get a better price if there were more bidders, commissioners agreed to re-advertise. “I thought it was a little high myself,” said Acord.
Commissioners had considered advertising in Seattle and Portland newspapers, but at their special meeting this week they decided the cost of almost $1,000 to advertise in those markets was too high. Commissioner Darold Brandenburg said that ordering vehicles from distant companies makes it more difficult and expensive for the district when the vehicle needs work done under warranty.
Ron Perrow of Winthrop urged the district to seek the “greatest possible coverage” in soliciting bidders. “It’s up to you guys to get us, the taxpayers, the biggest bang for the buck,” he said.
Acord said that the support vehicle being sought by the district will be custom-built, and therefore some companies may choose not to bid. He said additional companies have requested specifications after the district re-advertised for bidders following the Feb. 12 meeting. Brandenburg said many contractors regularly “scan for specs” in newspaper advertisements. The district is accepting bids until March 12.