When the time comes to purchase a new fire truck, Midwest Fire is here to help. We make the highest quality fire fighting equipment and know the best practices for selecting and purchasing a new fire apparatus for your crew. This is part one in a four-part series that will detail how to make the right choice.
Usually, there are triggers for planning a new truck purchase. Perhaps your current equipment is old or faulty, your city has grown in size requiring an additional truck, or maybe your fire department has a predetermined replacement schedule. Whatever the reason, everyone involved in the purchase should understand it and be aware of your department’s needs. This will help you spec out the new apparatus and it will help you gain the support of the community as you fund the purchase. The goal of this step is to agree on the objective. This is a key strategic element of this process and should be outlined before you begin looking to buy.
Form a Purchase Selection Committee
It is best to form a committee of 4-7 people with a mix of veterans and newbies to cover all roles in selecting a new apparatus. A committee will aid in efficiency and effectiveness of the process. Of course, the fire chief will be included in this committee, but be sure to select others to fill important roles.
Appointing Committee Members
A purchasing administrator’s job on the committee will be to hold the team accountable and maintain a structured timeline. This person’s role can also include taking minutes and ensuring legal processes are followed. A mechanical evaluator is another must-have member of the committee who can define the specifications and needs of the new apparatus. Including a board member or council member in the selection process will assist the department in gaining community support.
Lastly, an information gatherer to communicate with external organizations in seeking and collecting information – such as purchasing options and available grants – would be valuable. Be careful not to include too many people in your committee. In an article on CBS News online, Sean Silverthorne of Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge explains that more than 7 people slows the decision-making process and makes a conclusion difficult to reach.
With the help of your committee, you can determine the needs and goals for your new equipment. Once these are clear, your unit can move forward in purchasing new equipment. Return and read part two of our best practices series coming soon!