The purchase of a new fire truck for the town of Inverness took a slight detour on Monday after a request to switch manufacturers was submitted to, voted on and approved by the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors.
Board President Glenn Donald indicated that the change would require a restart of the paperwork; however, if they can expedite the gathering of the required signatures it should not be a lengthy delay.
Back in November, the county leaders voted to accept a quote from SunbeltFire, headquartered in Fairhope, Alabama, to purchase the fire truck even though it was reportedly $4,293 higher than the other bidder, Pierce Manufacturing, Bradenton, Florida.
Sunflower County Emergency Management Director Denny Evans, along with Inverness Fire Chief Jody Evans appeared before the board at that meeting and the EMA director recommended purchasing from SunbeltFire and the fire chief expressed no disagreement.
However, the EMA director told the county lawmakers on Monday that the Inverness chief has now voiced an opinion. “Since then, he has changed his mind. He wants to go with the Pierce fire truck.”
Although the equipment is basically the same on both, the breathing apparatuses included with the SunbeltFire quote that is a part of the specs for each truck comes with a better warranty and that was the premise for the earlier recommendation.
Based on that and no stated objection from the fire chief at that time, the county lawmakers voted to move ahead with the issuance of a purchase order for the truck contingent upon Inverness town officials signing a Memorandum of Agreement with the county.
Then, on Monday, Denny Evans and Inverness resident Bill Kennedy, who was apparently instrumental in helping secure additional state funds through a grant to purchase the truck, presented the request on behalf of Fire Chief Jody Evans to swap from Sunbelt to Pierce.
It appears that Evans now feels that the Pierce manufactured truck is more suitable for the department’s needs. Kennedy told the county supervisors that Chief Evans said, “We think that the Pierce truck is like what we’re used to operating and the training for it would be minimal compared to what the other one would be.”
Kennedy also stated that during a pre-funding approval conversation Evans had indicated that he was going to recommend the Pierce truck, so he was unsure of what caused the break in communication. He apologized to the board for having to request the change.
Even though a purchase order was initiated to buy the truck from SunbeltFire, it has not been delivered to the company. “Until you deliver it, you don’t have any contractual obligations to Sunbelt,” said Board Attorney Johnny McWilliams.
He indicated that several completed processes would need to be redone and stated that the reason for the change would be that the warranty amount on the breathing equipment is not worth the price difference.
Both trucks are available for purchased under state contract and Donald reasoned that since the Inverness fire fighters are going to be the ones using the apparatuses it should be their decision.
The new truck was previously reported to cost $356,147 and normally the county would be required to pay the full cost for the vehicle; however, the Town of Inverness received a special $150,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Insurance to help offset the cost. The grant must be used towards the purchase of a fire truck.