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Council approves purchase of new pickup truck for Fire Dept.

The purchase of another new city vehicle was a major point of discussion at Monday night’s Cairo City Council meeting.
This week’s action comes on the heels of a recent purchase of three new vehicles for the Cairo Police Department last month.
This time the council was considering a request from Cairo Fire Chief Bill Schafer to purchase a new pickup truck for his department that was budgeted in the 2016-2017 operating budget.
However, the fire chief’s recommendation, unlike Police Chief Keith Sandefur’s original recommendation last month, was to accept the low bid of $29,706.36 from Fairway Ford of Evans. Last month, the police chief had originally recommended accepting a higher bid to purchase the vehicles from Stallings Motors, but the council objected and the police chief conceded.
The fire department did receive bids from the two local car dealers, but both were higher than the low bid. Hobson Chevrolet submitted a bid of $32,057.18 for a truck for the fire department and Stallings Motors bid $32,061.00.
Chief Schafer explained that all of the dealers were asked to bid on the same specifications.
Mayor Bobby Burns noted that the bid of $29,829.00 from Brannen Motor Co. of Unadilla was only $123 higher and suggested it would be cheaper to travel to Unadilla to pick up the vehicle than it would be to go to Evans.
Chief Schafer said that Fairway Ford had a truck in stock and that it would be eight to 10 weeks delivery for a truck from Brannen Motor Co.
Councilmen James H. (Jimmy) Douglas and Jerry Cox both questioned some of the options requested by the chief for the new vehicle. According to Chief Schafer, those same specs were used in 2015 when the council approved the purchase of a 2015 Dodge Ram, which was purchased from Stallings Motors, which was the low bidder at that time.
“So you can’t buy a truck without those options at the fire department?” Councilman Cox asked.
“I wouldn’t recommend it,” Chief Schafer said. The fire chief said a back-up camera can help prevent accidents and costly repairs. According to the fire chief, 95 percent of accidents in fire service occur when vehicles are going in reverse.
The 2017 Ford F-150 SSV truck will replace a 2007 Ford F-150 that was formerly a Cairo Police Department vehicle and has approximately 190,000 miles.
Chief Schafer said the vehicle is burning oil, suffers from electrical system issues and needs a new front end.
In addition to the fleet of three fire engines the city fire department currently has four other vehicles in its fleet. A 2001 Ford F-150, which has 150,000 miles, is used for the department’s fire hydrant maintenance program, but according to the chief is not dependable enough for out-of-town travel.
The other vehicles are a 2011 Ford Expedition, which has 67,000 miles, and a 2015 Dodge Ram, which has 22,000 miles.
Chief Schafer says the new crew cab truck will be used to transport firefighters to training courses at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth and elsewhere.
Councilman Cox asked how many firefighters go to training at one time and if there was a need for the new truck to be a four-wheel drive truck.
Chief Schafer said two to four firemen go to training at one time, depending on scheduling. He also said that the fire department has been dispatched to fires at the landfill that could not be accessed without a four-wheel drive vehicle.
The truck will also be used to haul the fire department’s demonstration and training trailer.
“You are satisfied we are comparing apples to apples with these bids and all of the bidders meet the same set of specifications? The Dodge doesn’t have any higher level specs than needed?” Cox asked.
Chief Schafer said that all trucks were similarly equipped and all met the specifications he requested.
The council had only budgeted $28,000 for the new truck, which is slightly less than the lowest bid. Councilman Douglas asked if there were sufficient funds from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to finance the purchase of the truck.
City Manager Chris Addleton said that SPLOST collections have been lower than original projections but “we may can squeeze some out.” Douglas said if the truck could be purchased with sales tax proceeds it should be and he offered a motion to purchase the new Ford with Councilman Ernest Cloud providing the second. The motion passed 3-0. Councilmen Lannis Thornton and Bobby Gwaltney were absent Monday night.

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