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  • How to Write a Spec

    We may be specing a new pumper soon. We have done quite a bit of research and gathered info etc. What I'm wondering is how do you write a spec from scratch? Do you have to, or can you just write a list of requirments? When writing specs, if you prefer one ro 2 specific manufacturers..or don't want another to be able to bid, how do you write it to allow the ones you want and exclude the ones you dont?

    Looking for some guidance. Thanks

  • #2
    Most of the spec I've been involved in helping clients have been just a list of requirements. Like:

    2000gpm pump
    750 gallon tank
    min 450HP engine & matched tranny
    10kW generator
    Foam
    etc, etc.

    It's their job to come up with a complete bid spec. Anything you can't live without, make it a requirement. Things you don't care about as much, use the magic word or equivalent. So if you don't care about Detroit vs Cummins, leave a name off the list. If you want one or the other, mention it.

    Certain specifics can exclude manufacturers. 13" frame rails means Pierce. Underslung jacks on an aerial usually means E-One. Use of a Spartan chassis takes out a few people also. Wanting the single source chassis, excludes some too.

    Unless you have really strong reasons for narrowing down your choices, leave it as open as possible for vehicle requirements. But make sure you have some knowledge of where the service centers are, who has decent reputations etc, etc. You can make your decision on a whole host of things, you don't have to take low bid.

    Most importantly, don't let a salesperson come in and write your bid spec for you. I worked with someone that did that before contacting me, and no one else could bid because they mentioned a specific guage manufacturer to be used. No one else used them. So come bid time, only one came in that could meet it, the one that wrote it. I had them rebid, using only generic terms. The same company that thought they had it wrapped up from the first time around, suddenly dropped their price $20k on the 2nd bid since they knew others could meet the spec. That says there was $20k of extra dealer profit in the first price, which was $168k. I wouldn't have bought their truck for trying to pad that much profit in there, but they had other reasons for going with the company and they have a solid truck. Sometimes the end justifies the means.

    - Brian
    Brian P. Vickers
    www.vickersconsultingservices.com
    Emergency Services Consulting
    Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
    Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division

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    • #3
      As a starting point get the NFPA 1901 document. I think they have a questionaire / checklist of things you want the truck to have as an appendix. It asks questions as to what you want and all those things you want need to be in your spec.

      We just went through it and the pump alone can be 4-5 pages in a specification. You will not know all the boiler plate unless you go to various component suppliers websites and look around for the boiler plate verbage that you can copy into your specifications.

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      • #4
        Dont get too detailed on your spec, or you may have the same thing happen as Lincoln Nebraska.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for the help so far...

          We have done alot of homework, visiting trade shows to reviewing websites and literature and of course surfing around these forums.

          If I'm understanding correctly, basically you create a wishlist by category for the vehicle, and then the bidders (builders) come back and put it in their version?

          If this is the case, what biggies do you add to your wish lists? Obviously pump, tank, wheelbase, height etc. But I'm sure there are subtle things we would overlook.

          Thanks again

          Comment


          • #6
            Speedlays, bumper lines, hosebed requirements, compartment door type (roll-up or hinged). You can be as detailed or as open as you want. The best thing is to look at all of the new deliveries on the manufacturer web sites, find some that look close to what you want, and then contact those departments to find out how they like them, what they would change, what isn't working out like they thought it would, etc, etc.

            Definitely go all LED lighting, they use less juice than strobes and last longer. More visible too.

            I highly recommend remote control deck guns if you end up with a lot of defensive operations. Much safer than FFs climbing up and down on the truck, and takes less people to run them. We put two in the rear of the cab on our new quint, plus the aerial discharge is remote control also. I have a couple of pics of that, the rescue-pumper, and the heavy rescue here: www.firegraphics.org/cvfd-pierce.htm.
            Brian P. Vickers
            www.vickersconsultingservices.com
            Emergency Services Consulting
            Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
            Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division

            Comment


            • #7
              Other things to consider:

              Dimensions: Height of the raised roof, or length of the cab extension behind the rear doors.
              Seating: How many seating positions, and located where (rear or forward facing?)
              Minimum or maximum HP and torque ratings for your motor.
              Discharges: Number of discharges and thier locations
              Intakes: front, side, rear, all, only some?
              Generator? What type (PTO, stand-alone, etc), what capacity?
              Scene lighting: light tower, fixed floods, tripod lights? How many total watts?
              Reels: hydraulic reel for extrication, electrical reel for the generator
              Exhaust: vertical or under-body
              Ladder storage: through-the-tank, throught-the-compartment, fixed on the side of the apparatus, or using one of the many styles of ladder racks available

              You'll also want to investigate performance bonds and bid bonds, and see if they're desireable for you. Some localities and states actually require them, so you might want to check on that too.

              As BC79er said, it's all in how detailed you want to be. I've been on a lot of spec committees, both on the volunteer and career side. In fact, we're specing a new engine for my volunteer house now. We're going to include verbage that will allow for a lot of various manufacturers to bid, but they'll all have to do thier homework to meet our spec.

              Let us know what else we can do to help....
              Career Fire Captain
              Volunteer Chief Officer


              Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

              Comment


              • #8
                Spec writing

                There's some good discussion under the subject "Lincoln, Nebraska & E1." Much of it has to do with the differences between prescriptive, performance and generic specs as well as the pros and cons of each.

                We recently ordered an engine (see "Toyne wins") from a spec that was prescriptive in areas where we had our minds set on something, and performance based or generic in others. It went out to 12 or 13 builders and we got back no fewer than 6 proposals.

                Many commenters here have placed considerable importance on "Boiler Plate. Assuming that they are referring to the several pages of legalese about terms and conditions that come before any details of the apparatus, I couldn't agree more. An attorney member of our fire company years ago wrote our original boiler plate (he also wrote Pennsylvania's Firemens' Relief Act back in the 50s). He was adamant that the most important part of the boiler plate, or for that matter, the entire spec, was a "Statement of Intent." What are we trying to accomplish?

                His point was that if an impasse arose that ended up in litigation, one of the first things that the courts would look for is "what was the purchaser trying to do?" It doesn't have to be long, usually one paragraph is enough. But it needs to clearly outline the buyer's intent.

                Anyone who wants to read ours, please contact me at [email protected]earthlink.net.

                Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

                Comment


                • #9
                  first you need to ask several questions


                  What do you want this pumper (engine) to do?

                  How many people does it need to carry?

                  How much can you afford to spend on it?

                  Custom or Commercial cab/chassis?

                  How many gallons in the Tank?

                  What size of pump?

                  NFPA regs and ISO requirements are a good starting point, but then do you want it tailored more to your operation?

                  For example, if you want this to be an engine rescue (rescue pumper) then compartmentation will be more critical than with a standard pumper. This may dictate specifying a hydralic ladder rack or ladders through the tank.

                  If you "throw a lot of ladders" the hydraulic rack may be better

                  If your operations call for a laying a lot of supply hose, then hosebed requirements can be critical. Or you might think out of the box and put your LDH on reels. And so forth and so on......

                  Look at as many trucks as possible

                  see what you like

                  ask people about what you like/dislike about a truck, a feature on the truck, etc.

                  have as many dealers for diffent companies as possible bring their truck to your station. Drive it, throw some gear in it. flow some water with it.

                  Factory trips can be eye openers. nothing like seeing what a builder can or can't put on their trucks

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ledebuhr1
                    Dont get too detailed on your spec, or you may have the same thing happen as Lincoln Nebraska.

                    From soneone who has been involved with writting specs for almost 20 years, I have to disagree with you. Your specs should include EVERYTHING. From discharge drains to tranmission gear ratios, be as detailed as possible.
                    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

                    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

                    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
                    RUSH-Tom Sawyer

                    Success is when skill meets opportunity
                    Failure is when fantasy meets reality

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ledebuhr1
                      Dont get too detailed on your spec, or you may have the same thing happen as Lincoln Nebraska.
                      What happened in Lincoln sounds like it happened because of one of three possibilities:

                      1. Criminal Negligence

                      2. Intellectual Negligence (someone just got plain stupid and didnt know any better) Stupid is as stupid does.

                      or 3. Lack of detailed specs.
                      "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        After I read the articles on what happened in Lincoln and I saw thier specs. I thought to myself that the guys at E-One prabally said,"we dont need a firefighter telling us how to engineer a truck".
                        I know that you need details, but having too many that are specifically related to engineering can hurt you. Especially if what you want is out of the norm.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ledebuhr1
                          After I read the articles on what happened in Lincoln and I saw thier specs. I thought to myself that the guys at E-One prabally said,"we dont need a firefighter telling us how to engineer a truck".
                          I know that you need details, but having too many that are specifically related to engineering can hurt you. Especially if what you want is out of the norm.
                          Ask a Pierce Rep about front suspensions and axles on their products during the 80's into the very early 90's.
                          "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            BC79er,

                            On that quint you have the ability to flow 3750 gpm from the two deck guns and ladder monitor...why???

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The two deck guns are for either protecting the truck if needed (wind shift, deteriorating conditions, etc) before the main gets put into service. Since it's a quint and our call volume (5,800/year) keeps us hopping we wanted the ability to put as much water into play with as few people as possible. The quint takes 2 to set up since the pump operator ought to stay at the panel, so we can put two master streams into operation with one person right away. But odds are it would just be the one facing the fire building. The aerial discharge is wireless remote, so if we're going master stream on that we don't need someone on the end of it, they can control it from the ground.

                              Also preplanning shows many, many apartment buildings where we'll need in excess of 3,500gpm per NFPA & ISO estimated fire flow rates. We can pull it off in a couple of the spots with the current hydrant system, but we're laying to mains on different grids. Some of the apt complex hydrants are looped systems so we have to pump from a hydrant outside the complex to one inside the complex. Kinda screwed up, but much easier than trying to get the water company to install bigger lines around the place. The apt owners sure won't.

                              With bordering the 4th largest city in the country we're growing like mad, so for the minimal extra cost we've got a truck that is spec'd to last 20 years and is more flexible in terms of use on the fireground than the average bear. Hence the CAFS out the aerial discharge. Whole truck cost us around $850K loaded. The power of co-op purchasing.
                              Brian P. Vickers
                              www.vickersconsultingservices.com
                              Emergency Services Consulting
                              Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
                              Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division

                              Comment

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