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Split council OKs fire truck purchase
Cost of truck impacted by supply chain woes
fire truck purchase
Great Bend Mayor Cody Schmidt, second from left, and City Council members Kevyn Soupiset, Jolene Biggs and Davis Jimenez take part in the discussion over purchasing a new fire truck for the Great Bend Fire Department. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

It was sort of like shooting at a moving target when the Great Bend City Council Monday night approved the purchase of a new truck for the Great Bend Fire Department. 

At the May 17, 2021, council meeting, Marmie Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Great Bend was awarded the bid for a new Dodge Ram 5500 truck with a Knapheide bed for $78,864. 

Included in the bid package was a siren and lighting package provide by SERV’s in Andover and vehicle graphics by Mark’s Custom Design, and the delivery of the vehicle was projected for the last quarter in 2021, Fire Chief Luke McCormick said. 

But, Tom Klug with Marmie Motors, contacted the Fire Department and advised them that Dodge has decided to not provide the government pricing on the RAM 5500, McCormick said. 

This, along with a shortage of micro chips and other supply chain issues, meant the truck could not be ordered last spring. Prices have increased and to order the truck now will cost the city $84,828, with the dealer covering what would have been paid by the government discount.

The truck will be ordered this week, and city officials hope a truck can be delivered and the price holds.

The cost still includes the entire package. The price of the bed, accessories and graphics remains unchanged.

New territory

Jerry Marmie and Tom Klug were present at the council meeting to provide details. The dealership has also advised the city that the purchase price cannot be guaranteed until the delivery of the vehicle due to the current market conditions.

“We have no control over this,” Klug said. 

“We’ve never been down this path,” Marmie said. “It’s just the worst inflation.”

The truck will be used to pull the new 32-foot Tech Rescue trailer and a Rescue One connector boat with a boat trailer, purchased with Department of Homeland Security grant funds. Although these trailers see limited use, McCormick said it is important to be able to haul them when needed, and at present the department doesn’t have a vehicle to do that.

Even the original price was higher than what the department had budgeted, but the council last spring approved the purchase anyway. McCormick said he was willing to pull grant funds from other sources to cover the balance.   He is looking at getting a portable cascade system allowing the filling of air bottles on the scene of a house fire in lieu of having to transport them to Station 2 for filling. Money for this could be tapped and the purchase be pushed back.

But, “we do not recommend pulling the money from what I think is essential equipment,” City Administrator Kendal Francis said. “I would suggest that we take that from (American Recovery Plan Act) funds or from the previous COVID-related funds that are as a direct reimbursement for police and fire wages. I think that would be more appropriate instead of cutting back on what we already need for equipment.”

In the end, a split council approved the buy, with some not comfortable about the fluctuating price.

It passed on a 4-3 vote with Ward 2 Councilman Kevyn Soupist, Ward 4 Councilman Brock McPherson, Ward 1 Councilman Alan Moeder and Ward 3 Councilman Cory Urban voting for it. Voting no were Ward 2 Councilwoman Jolene Biggs, Ward 3 Councilman Davis Jimenez and Ward 1 Councilwoman Lindsey Krom-Craven.