Call it a two for one.

When Brainerd Fire Department leaders wanted to upgrade their 1983, 95-foot platform truck and 2007, 75-foot ladder truck, they turned to cooperative purchasing.

The department purchased a 2020 Sutphen SPH-100 Aerial Platform – a vehicle that, essentially, did the work of two in one. The truck features a 100-foot platform with a 2,000 GPM pump, 400 gallons of onboard water with 20 gallons of foam, and six riding positions with SCBA mounting built in for five of those seats.

Brainerd Fire Chief Tim Holmes said his department has utilized cooperative purchasing contracts in the past for a variety of equipment and services; however, this was the first fire truck purchased off a competitively awarded contract.

“In my opinion, going through the bid process, you’re not always comparing apples to apples,” Holmes said. “With contract purchasing, all that’s already laid out. You don’t have to go out to bid, it saves a ton of time.”

A hot topic

More and more agencies throughout the country are turning to cooperative purchasing to help save time and money by combining the buying power of many. Contracts are typically awarded at the manufacturing level but can also be leveraged locally to support hometown dealers.

According to a 2018 survey by Onvia, public agencies utilize cooperative purchasing for 20% of their purchasing needs. Cooperative purchasing is an important tool that can assist with your purchasing needs.

In the case of purchasing a fire truck, Holmes said the convenience of using competitively-solicited and bid contracts makes utilizing contract purchasing a no-brainer.

“The contracts are already vetted through the program you’re using,” Holmes said, “so you know that you’re getting the best price and it just takes a lot of that guesswork out of it.”

Since being put into action, the aerial platform truck has earned its keep, including a roof fire at a local high school and the rescue of an individual from a billboard suffering from a medical condition.

When phasing out and replacing aged, inadequate equipment, Holmes said the rewards of cooperative purchasing go far beyond time and cost savings. “Having a reliable piece of equipment or apparatus just really gives us that peace of mind that we can get to where we’re needed and perform at our peak.”

See it in action