The thrill of opening a new toy fire truck on Christmas morning wasn’t exactly in the air at the Mendham Borough meeting of the mayor and council on Monday night, but the fact remains officials approved a bid that will provide a new ladder truck to the town. The total cost of the new truck is listed at $927,569.
“We are awarding the bid to Pierce Manufacturing, who is the lowest responsible bidder,” said Councilman Brad Badal.
There were two other bids that, while technically lower, were disqualified.
“The first bidder did not give us the length ladder we requested and the specifications of the truck made it so it would not fit in the firehouse,” Badal said. “The second bidder would not give us a five-year warranty. They would only go two years.”
The size of the ladder was an issue for the fire department, who wanted the new truck to be as much of a benefit to the town as possible.
“The biggest thing for us is the horizontal reach. Which for us is kind of a big deal,” said Mendham Fire Department Deputy Chief Chris Nelson. “That extra four feet sometimes makes or breaks what we can do.”
According to Nelson, the fire department approved of the Pierce bid.
“This is as close as you can get to what we think can do the town the best benefit and make our jobs easier for us,” Nelson said.
While the council approved commission of the truck, there were two cost-related factors still up in the air. The first was an installment plan that has the potential to save the borough a bundle.
“There are significant savings to be had, approximately $20,000, if there were progress payments made,” Badal said. “I’ve spoken to the finance committee and I think it would be advantageous to us.”
The details of those payments would be worked out at the next meeting of the finance committee. There was also the issue of wheels for the new truck. Badal said the truck was to have aluminum wheels included, but they could received a $4,000 credit if they went to steel wheels.
“The wheels are pretty much, I would say, interchangeable,” Nelson said. “Aluminum wheels are a little lighter and they’re easier to clean and are maintenance free. Steel wheels we need to sand a repaint every few years.”
Council member Veronica Daly said she didn’t know if wheel maintenance was something the department should be engaged in.
“How many hours does it take to sand and repaint the wheels? Don’t we have better things for the fire department to do?” Daly said. “We’re short on volunteers as it is.”
Council President John Andrus suggested the Nelson take the wheel request back to the fire department to see if they wanted to pay for the aluminum wheels.
“I will go back to the fire department and see what they say,” Nelson said.