OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Fire Department has set its sights on a new firetruck and now needs City Council approval to buy it.
In a last-minute change, the OFD decided to go with the lowest bidder for a new aerial fire apparatus. The City Council will vote on the matter at its meeting Tuesday night.
Replacing the OFD's 1977 American LaFrance snorkel is long overdue, said Fire Chief Tony Miller, especially now that it's been taken out of service due to ongoing maintenance issues.
The truck can only reach 85 feet, whereas a new truck would be able to shoot up to 100 or 101 feet, high enough to reach the top of Westgate Towers and angle around Ottumwa High School. The truck also doesn't have a water tank or water pump, it's leaking oil and all of its hydraulic hoses are cracking or leaking fluid.
"We know how important having a working aerial is," Miller said. "It's something we need. The bottom line is you need the stuff or you don't need it. In our situation, we do need it. If we push it off and go another year, it's just going to cost more money."
On Friday, the OFD had decided to reject all of the bids for a new firetruck and relet the project. But on Monday morning, Miller decided instead to go with the lowest qualified bid, Rosenbauer America, for nearly $1.07 million.
Two other bids had been received for the project: Sutphen Manufacturing for nearly $1.14 million and a bid from Feld Fire, which was disqualified after not meeting the specifications.
When discussions of purchasing a new firetruck began, it was budgeted at $1.2 million. But manufacturers had predicted the bill would actually come in closer to $1 million.
"We've been trying to get down closer to $1 million or so," Miller said. "Originally we were going to reject it because it came in over budget [at $1,068,657]. But after talking with some council members and the city administrator, they want to go ahead and push forward with it for many reasons.