The Stillwater Fire Department sought federal grants for the past two years to replace the department’s aging self-contained breathing apparatus.
Those Federal Emergency Management Administration Firefighter Assistance grants were rejected. Fire Chief Tom Bradley decided future grant requests were unlikely to be funded because of federal budget cuts.
The fire department sought bids and took the issue to the City Council. Monday night, councilors unanimously decided to spend $326,778 to purchase the equipment.
The contract was awarded to Wayest Safety for the purchase of Scott equipment with rapid intervention team (RIT) packs.
The decision didn’t sit well with David Hatfield, a sales representative of Casco Industries in Oklahoma City.
After the contract was awarded, Hatfield told city councilors that Casco Industries submitted a bid that was $40,817 less than the Wayest Safety bid. The Casco bid included MSA-brand equipment, while Wayest Safety’s bid was for Scott-brand equipment.
“Chief Bradley was afraid the maintenance on the MSA air packs was going to be quite expensive,” Hatfield said.
After consulting with MSA, Hatfield said an email was sent Bradley on April 23 which stated the company would cover the costs of annual and three-year recommended overhauls if Casco conducted annual flow tests.
MSA’s offer to perform annual and three-year maintenance came after the bids were opened, Bradley said.
After Monday’s City Council meeting, Bradley praised city councilors for awarding the contract for the breathing equipment.
“It’s been a long and arduous journey,” he said.
The department’s air packs were purchased in fiscal year 2000, and are nearing the end of their life cycle, Bradley said. New SCBAs are designed to protect firefighters against chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive environment that many fire departments are encountering.
The fire department selected a team of senior leaders to evaluate the air packs. The field trials involved three manufacturers of SCBAs and four models.
The department requested bids from three Oklahoma-based vendors, receiving bids from two. The bid proposals were evaluated on at least seven criteria. The Scott air packs were determined to provide the best value and the best protection for firefighters, Bradley said.