Is your old fire truck in need of replacement? It happens. And unfortunately, we all know what it means: now is the time to start looking for, or dreaming up, a satisfactory replacement.

Replacing your truck should not be taken lightly. Because the safety of your crew, your community, and yourselves as fire chiefs are at stake, fleet purchases are ones you need to get bang on, every time.

The first step in replacing an aged out member of your emergency fleet is to assess whether you are going to buy a new or used replacement. For safety reasons, recognizing that safety standards and best safety practices are changing all of the time, we at Metalfab always recommend buying your trucks new. This will give your trucks greater longevity in their service toof your fleet and toof your community.

Some of you are resistant to buying new because it’s more costly, and you know you’ll have to write up a pesky RFP, or Request for Proposal. Your friends at Metalfab get it, but we want to show you that buying new is typically more cost-effective and writing an RFP doesn’t need to be difficult. When you write an RFP for Metalfab, we’ll make the process effortless and easy, guaranteed.

Getting Started

Before you get started on your RFP, make sure you have a basic idea of what you require for your new unit. We recommend forming a truck committee within your department to help make decisions concerning the new unit. Reach out to manufacturers and get them involved in the process as well. If you are working with Metalfab, we anticipate working closely with you to ensure the finalized RFP is perfect and accurately all the details for your new truck.

Start by looking at your current truck and explore what you like and don’t like about it. Evaluate whether the old truck has any issues and its capability to perform tasks with ease. Once you’ve got a grasp on that, here are a few questions that will help you paint the bigger picture of what you’re looking for in your new truck:.

  • What is the primary purpose of this vehicle? If your needs have changed significantly since the last time you purchased a piece of fire apparatus, review how the purchase will fit into your new dynamic.
  • How many people and how much equipment do you need to carry? More seats may sound ideal, but this may not be necessary depending on the size of your crew. Carefully assess your people to equipment ratio for this specific vehicle before deciding how to divide seating and storage space.
  • What fire suppression capabilities are needed? Do you have special requirements for pump size and flow? Do you have special requirements for foam or CAFS? Is the tank size of the unit important?
  • What are the challenges in your district? Evaluate whether restricted local infrastructure, such as narrow roads and weight limited bridges, will be able to support the new truck and decide how to account for that in the overall planning.

Once you have the basic what questions answered, then you can start researching some manufacturers that offer what you need. You might also ask around to other fire departments in the region to find out where they purchased their fleet vehicles from and if they would recommend their provider.

Prior to COVID, trade shows were another valuable avenue for departments to meet with manufacturers and get hands-on experience with product offerings prior to purchasing. They also presented product ideas that you may not have considered. We highly recommend taking advantage of this route as part of your self-assessment when it becomes available again.

The other option is to speak with a manufacturer directly, which is still readily available to you. At Metalfab, we’re happy to give you our opinion and send you in the right direction for your needs, whether that’s with us or another industry leader. Call Metalfab’s Business Development Manager, Ryan Stacey, at 1-800-561-0012, ext. 24 to discuss your evaluation and ideas or to arrange a meeting.

Your RFP document should comprehensively detail what you are looking for in your unit. This is why it’s so important to perform a full self-assessment prior to submitting your requests for proposal to various manufacturers.

While there is no set structure for an RFP document, it should follow a basic format.

First, your RFP document needs to have a purchase overview. This is where you’ll list the issue date, reference information, opening and closing dates, contact information, and any key instructions for bidders.

Following the purchase overview, you’ll lay out the scope of the proposal, warranty requirements, terms and conditions of the purchase, evaluation points, and a qualification document to be completed by each bidder. If you have any other forms for bidders to complete, attach them here as well.

Get It Right With Metalfab

By following these steps, fire departments can create an effective and comprehensive RFP that ensures they acquire a fire truck that meets all their operational needs and specifications.

Here at Metalfab, we are more than happy to work with you on drafting a request for proposal. Our whole team is here to suggest items to include and recommend a format that will suit your purposes. If and when desired, you can email any partially completed RFP document to and our Business Development Manager Ryan Stacey will be happy to review it with you.

A lot of work goes into preparing an RFP document as you initiate the process of purchasing a new fire truck. It’s not something you want to waste time revising again and again when you find key pieces have been missed.

At Metalfab, we want to make sure you get it right the first time. By letting you in on a few key steps, we’ll help you better understand your department’s needs before you jump into drafting an RFP. Performing a thorough self-assessment and understanding the necessary elements of an RFP document will ensure you have all of the information you need to write a compelling and effective proposal . . . the first time.