New fire engine OK'd
For more than two years, Holton’s fire department has asked the Holton City Commission to consider the purchase of a new “first-out” fire engine to replace one that has been in service for 20 years, so that firefighters could do a better and safer job of fighting fires in the city and fire insurance rates for Holton residents would not go through the roof.
On Monday, the city commission approved a bid of $970,595 from Hays Fire and Rescue Sales and Service of Hays for a new fire engine with a 109-foot aerial ladder, the cost of which will be covered partially by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that was awarded to the city earlier this year.
The only downside of the bid award, commissioners noted, was that the new fire engine likely would not be delivered to the city until January of 2023, according to Hays Fire’s estimate of 425 days to custom-build and deliver the new fire engine, which would be done by Rosenbauer Aerials of Fremont, Neb.
But for the money, Holton Fire Chief Kevin Ingels said the city and the fire department were still getting “the best buy” to replace the city’s current “first-out” fire engine with a 65-foot aerial ladder that went into service in 1999.
In July of 2019, Ingels approached commissioners about the need to purchase a new “first-out” truck, since the National Fire Protection Association recommends that once fire engines reach 20 years of service, they should be replaced, and once they reach 25 years, they should be retired.
NFPA also governs fire insurance rates for homeowners, it was noted, and if the city could purchase a new fire truck with a taller ladder for better fire protection, those rates could come down.
Ingels told commissioners on Monday that he wanted to get a fire engine with a ladder range of more than 100 feet so that firefighters could safely fight any fires on Holton’s Town Square and “be safely out of the collapse zone,” since NFPA mandates a fire engine to be a distance away from a building on fire equivalent to one and a half times the height of the building.
Bids from Hays Fire, Jon’s Mid-America Fire Apparatus of Rogersville, Mo., and Danko Emergency Equipment of Snyder, Neb., included requests for a single-axle fire engine with a ladder ranging from 75 to 100 feet, a tandem-axle engine with a ladder range of 100 feet or more or a “demo” engine currently under construction by the fire engine’s manufacturer.
A fire engine with a 75-foot ladder “would only give us about 10 more feet,” Ingels said, while a tandem-axle truck would give the fire engine a shorter turning radius. Jon’s Mid-America and Hays were the only two bidders who provided a bid for a tandem-axle engine with a ladder range of more than 100 feet, commissioners noted.
Paying for the fire truck would be done partially by the CDBG, according to Brett Waggoner of the Governmental Assistance Services firm of Lawrence, with about $455,000 of Hays Fire’s $970,595 bid to be covered by the grant.
The city would be responsible for about $515,800 of that amount, Waggoner told commissioners. Holton City Manager Kerwin McKee later noted that the city’s portion would come from its equipment reserve and capital improvement funds.
Waggoner also noted that the 425-day assembly window for the fire engine, which would likely put the new fire engine in the city’s hands sometime in late January of 2023, would give the city about “a month and a half cushion” before the March 15, 2023, when the city’s CDBG contract would legally end.
“If for some reason, there’s a supply chain issue or who knows what, another round of COVID-19, if the fire truck wasn’t completely done and delivered by that deadline date, CDBG routinely gives extensions on grants for good reasons,” said Waggoner, who wrote the city’s CDBG application for the fire engine.
Hays Fire’s bid for the fire engine was approved unanimously on a motion by Commissioner Marilyn Watkins, seconded by Mike Meerpohl.
Bids for the fire engines as reviewed by the city are listed below, with the first option being a single-axle vehicle with a ladder range of 75 to 100 feet, the second option a tandem-axle vehicle with a ladder range of greater than 100 feet and the third option a “demo” model:
• Hays Fire submitted bids of $839,089 for option one, a single-axle Rosenbauer engine with a 78-foot ladder and a 425-day delivery window; $988,048 for option two, a tandem-axle Rosenbauer engine with a 109-foot ladder and a 425-day delivery window; and two bids for the third option — $848,105 for a Rosenbauer demo engine with a 78-foot ladder and a delivery time of 30 to 90 days, and $873,397 for a Rosenbauer demo engine with a 78-foot ladder and a nine-month delivery window.
Hays’ bids on the first two options included “progress payment discounts” that put their option one bid at $824,752 and their option two bid at $970,595. Commissioners ultimately chose the latter for purchase with the discount in place.
• Jon’s Mid-America submitted bids of $1,094,448 for option one, a single-axle E-One engine with a 100-foot ladder and a 480-day delivery window; $1,048,410 for option two, a tandem-axle E-One engine with a 100-foot ladder and a 480-day delivery window; and $915,576 for option three, a single-axle E-One demo unit with a 75-foot ladder and a 165-day delivery window.
• Danko submitted bids of $875,539 for an Alexis engine with a 75-foot ladder and a one-year delivery window and $945,973 for an Alexis demo unit with a 75-foot ladder and a one-year delivery window. The company did not submit a bid on the second option.