Fire district board approves contracts for SCBA devices, air compressor

Board votes to formally OK 1.5-percent pay hike for ’13

By Mike Anthony

Contracts for the purchase of self-contained breathing apparatus devices and an air compressor were awarded last week by the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors.

Board members voted 2-0 to award a $430,173 contract for MSA self-contained breathing apparatus devices, or SCBAs, to Towers Fire Apparatus and a $33,498 contract for a Bauer air compressor to Banner Fire Equipment. Board Chairman Aaron Hilmer was absent from the Jan. 9 meeting.

Eighty percent of the cost of the new equipment is being funded through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency the district received last February.

The district will pay the remaining 20 percent of the cost.

Other bidders for the SCBAs included Banner Fire Equipment, $349,573.80 for Drager devices, and Franco Emergency Solutions, $431,074 for Scott devices.

Other bidders for the air compressor included Towers Fire Apparatus, $30,132 for a MAKO unit; Franco Emergency Solutions, $33,335 for a Scott unit; and Midwest Breathing Air Solutions, $33,872 for an Eagle unit.

Chief Brian Hendricks told the board the evaluation process for the SCBAs began six months ago.

The units were evaluated several ways, according to Hendricks, including a presentation by the manufacturers about the strength of their products.

“Then we put the units in a controlled environment. We built an SCBA confidence course in the basement of our new 3 house, where we ran all of our firefighters and paramedics through it,” he said. “During that time, they filled out evaluation forms. We created a subcommittee, an SCBA committee through the local (2665). We had these people really spearhead. We’ve discussed it at length with our Operational Review Committee. We did this for a period of six months.”

In addition, firefighters and paramedics tested the units in the field, according to the chief. Then a specification was created, a request for proposals was issued and the district received three responses for the SCBA units.

“… I want to make it clear that all three products are terrific products,” Hendricks said.

Regarding the SCBA proposals, Hen-dricks said the one submitted by Towers Fire Apparatus was closest to compliance with the district’s specification.

“… The driving force for the decision, from my perspective, was the evaluations by our employees …,” the chief said. “It is not the low bid of $349,000.

“My recommendation for the board is going to be to award the SCBA bid to Towers Fire Apparatus …”

For the air compressor, Hendricks said, “… While not the lowest bid, Bauer offers the lowest cost of ownership due to less-frequent maintenance and calibration required.

“It’s our opinion from our internal staff, as well as our vendor that will service the unit, that we go with the Bauer brand sold through Banner for $33,498 …”

In a separate matter, the board voted 2-0 to establish 2013 rates of pay for district employees, formally approving a 1.5-percent, across-the-board salary increase.

The Board of Directors voted last month to approve the district’s 2013 budget that includes the 1.5-percent salary increase for employees.

“… The engineer/fire medics will now make the same rate of pay as the lieutenants,” Hendricks said. “This was something that was discussed with the local. So they were aware of it … So this is really just the final change. We couldn’t make this change until the board approved the budget …”