WARNING TO FIRE DEPARTMENTS WHO ARE ABOUT TO CONTRACT WITH FIRE PROP OR FACILITY MANUFACTURES!!
IT HAS BEEN DOCUMENTED ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS WHERE A MANUFACUTRE COMPETING FOR A TRAINING PROP, INTENTIONALLY TWISTS THE PROCURMENT PROCESS AROUND BY SUGGESTING THE REQUIREMENTS IN THE CONTRACT DID NOT LIST THE FULL STATEMENT OF WORK, FOR EXAMPLE:
You the fire department or contracting unit let out a contract or requirement for a particular training prop, facility, or service. To use a recent example I will use a car fire trainer; you expect the trainer to come complete with all the necessary controls to enable the trainer to function as designed. Instead you just get the car fire trainer. The manufacture insists you did not specify the trainer was to function or it was to come with controls to make it function. And then the manufacture proceeds to tell you that there will be an additional charge for the controls, set up, and training.
The reason the manufacture has done this to you, is to become the low bidder plain and simple, the manufacture has not given you the courtesy of a phone call or an email. The manufacture has deliberately wronged the tax payer. In discussion with many contracting officials the manufacture should be black listed for this deliberate act.
Here are some tips so you do not make this same mistake:
1. Add wording to all contracts in some like fashion;
“The training props, facility, equipment, and materials shall be referred to as the training system”
“This requirement may not list all necessary materials or equipment for a complete working training system. The Contractor/Manufacture is responsible for providing a complete working training system with all necessary materials and equipment whether listed or not in this requirement”
“The Contractor / Manufacture are considered the expert in the field. The Contractor/Manufacture must show proof by means of Engineers Licenses, Contractors Licenses, pictures and references depicting all the necessary materials, equipment, training, and support necessary for a complete working training system. No Exceptions”
2. Require all proposers to supply documented evidence of completing at a minimum 5 exact training systems you are requiring. Complete with contact numbers of the persons responsible for the training system.
3. Make calls to all five contact numbers supplied. Ask the following questions;
A) “Are you happy with the training system?”
B) “Is the training system / prop what you expected?”
C) “What would you like to see changed in the training system or prop that would be a beneficial improvement to your training?” (i.e. would you like to see the prop more realistic? Would you like to see the operator controls be more functional and contain a fail-safe system? Would you like to see the prop contain a 15 year warranty?)
4. Require the contractor / manufacture to provide a full unconditional 15 year warranty on the training system. (Reason is, every training system we have used or maintained works fine for about 1 year then requires parts, maintenance, and in some cases complete rebuilds. Don’t make this mistake).
5. Require the manufacture to provide two quotes one for their standard proposed product and another for their top of the line product detailing the differences of each. This way you can see what corners they are cutting in order to win a bid.
6. Require all materials to be at “best industry standards” “must be approved equal or better”. Most manufacture’s marketing products which are under governmental purchasing requirements will only use the minimum required materials. In other words when you specify a “Propane delivery system to be NFPA compliant”, Black iron piping is compliant. But Stainless steel piping is also compliant. So if you want the “best industry standards” materials which will require no maintenance or very little, you will need to specify that you require “All piping systems to be stainless steel”.
7. Question the Architect firm, not all are the same and each has their own twist on what is best for you. Don’t be fooled, many architects have had their designs refurbished after they spent a great deal of the budget moneys with misinformed information. Finding someone in your department that can interact with the knowledge of construction and fire fighting is a positive seat at the discussion table. Interview and contact architects references and their Engineering firms references as well. I recommend you not only require the architect to have a minimum five fire facility references but also the engineering firms.
8. When in doubt go out!!
Go visit as many facilities you can to establish your own opinion of what would be the wisest investment for your particular facility. Not all departments are the same, not all fires are the same, and one architect firm’s “claim to fame” will not solve all your requirements. Get involved in the design process. Repeat your needs several times and get it all in writing..