Marshfield aldermen back committee decision on new fire engine
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield aldermen are supporting the decision of a four-person committee – three firefighters and a deputy chief – to purchase a new fire engine from an Appleton firm.
With Alderpersons Peter Hendler and Rebecca Spiros absent, the Marshfield Common Council voted 8-0 Feb. 12 in favor of a bid from Pierce Manufacturing for the new engine, which will replace an engine that has been in service for over 30 years and is long past its prime.
Pierce was one of two bids received for the fire engine purchase, with the other coming from Marshfield company, Stainless & Repair, Inc.
Theresa Backaus of Stainless & Repair spoke on behalf of her husband Derrick, who said through a prepared written statement that their bid is $76,000 lower than the Pierce bid, and the council should “buy local” in this instance, especially since Pierce also wrote the specifications used for the bidding process.
“I could ask the council to take a stand here and say this apparatus should be built locally so that taxpayer dollars stay in this community,” Backaus said. “I could ask the council to stand behind the slogan we hear so much throughout the community, ’Buy local.’ I could ask the council to look at the 10s of thousands saved by purchasing this apparatus manufactured right here in our own home town; what better way to leave no stone unturned, bring down the $1.5 million dollar budget adjustment that has to take place?
“I want the council to think about the repercussions from this community and business owners, when you take taxpayer dollars and send them out of the area.”
Marshfield Fire Chief Scott Owen told the council that Stainless wasn’t offering exactly what his department was asking for, with some specs addressing department safety.
“We have no doubt that Stainless can build a decent rig; it’s just not the rig that is in our best interest, that’s not in our best needs,” Owen said. “We like Stainless. Stainless is a great company. We continue to take business to Stainless, but as part of my responsibility as chief, I am here to protect the citizens (and) to do what is in the best interest.”
Lance Christopher, president of Firefighters Union Local 1021, asked council members to trust what the firefighters tell them they want.
“We have absolutely no dissolution that Stainless & Repair wouldn’t make an exceptional apparatus for us, but the one that was put in is not that apparatus,” Christopher said. “This isn’t the Ford or Chevy fight here. It’s literally just the fact that out committee has chosen Pierce. They went through it with a fine-toothed comb, to find all of the different issues and to establish an engine that we feel comfortable with, that meets some of the deficits that we had in the other apparatus. We feel confident in that committee’s research and what they came forward with.”
Chief Owen said the committee worked in-house to review the specifications wanted for the new fire engine and came up with a recommendation for the city’s Police & Fire Commission to consider. Commission President Mike Meyers said he and other members were very confident in the job the committee did.
“It’s important to point out that we hire a chief, and we promote people within the department to do a specific job, and run the department,” Meyers said. “I certainly don’t want to alienate any local business – particularly Stainless & Repair. It was presented to us thoroughly by members of the department. It was a 5-0 vote amongst members of the commission to proceed with the Pierce bid.”
Owen said the new fire engine will replace one which is nearly 34 years old and probably should have been replaced a decade or so ago.