New York City is the most populated city in the United States, with more than 8.5 million people living within the borders of its five boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx, and Staten Island). Knowing this, it makes sense that NYC is also home to the nation’s largest municipal fire department.
The Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) currently employs approximately 15,000 people, including 11,000+ uniformed firefighters and a combined 4,000+ EMTs, paramedics and fire inspectors. To ensure that the men and women of the FDNY are properly trained and equipped, the Department issues bids for specialized equipment and services needed to protect their employees and the citizens of New York.
Some of the more common business opportunities for vendors looking to partner with FDNY involve the sourcing of specialized fire equipment such as uniforms, helmets, flashlights, breathing apparatuses, suppression equipment and medical supplies. Bids for new technology solutions, such as aerial drones and firefighting simulators, are also appearing with increasing frequency for larger fire departments like the FDNY.
Education services and materials present additional opportunities for businesses. Continued training is a primary focus for any fire department: bids are issued for learning materials for programs including firefighter I and II; ropes and fitness; and EMT and paramedic training solutions. Many departments issue bids for multiyear agreements to provide custom education materials to ensure the programs meet the department’s needs.
The Bidding Process
The FDNY issues bids through the NYC Mayor’s Office of Contract Service, New York’s centralized procurement office, where contracts for goods, services, and technology products are posted for many NYC government agencies. Businesses that wish to sell goods and/or services to the FDNY must participate in the competitive bidding process, which is designed to deliver the best value for the city.
Before a business submits a bid, there may be mandatory activities that the vendor needs to complete in order to become eligible. These may include pre-bid conferences, the submission of a Request for Comment (RFC), Request for Information (RFI), Request for Quote/Qualifications (RFQ), Notice of Intent (NOI) or Invitation/Intent to Bid (ITB). The specific requirements for each bid can be different, but are explained in each bid notification.
Once all bids for a specific contract are received, Contract Services will begin the bid opening and evaluation process. At this point vendors may need to complete additional requirements, including interviews, reference checks, product or service demonstrations and/or requests for clarification to move the process forward.
Following the bid opening, a selection will be made based on the responses received. As part of the selection process, contract negotiations, drafting and completion of administrative forms and review of the final contract may be required before the bid is finally awarded.
Minority, Women, Veteran and Small Business Certification (M/WBE)
One way to improve your odds when looking to do business with the FDNY is to obtain M/WBE certification. Minority and women-owned businesses in New York City are eligible for Minority and/or Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) certification through the Mayor’s office of M/WBEs and the Department of Small Business Services. The MWBE provides increased visibility and access to state business opportunities, including proprietary access to special networking and training events.
Applying for certification with the City of New York is free but businesses must be authorized to do business in the state of New York. Applicants must also have a history of actively selling their products or services for a minimum of 1 year and have a substantial business presence in the New York City area; this includes all 5 boroughs as well as Nassau, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester counties in the state of New York or Bergen, Hudson, and Passaic counties in New Jersey.
The program is open to Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership, Limited Liability Company or Corporations only, Not-for-Profits cannot apply for M/WBE status with the City of New York. The Business must also be at least 51% owned and operated by a US citizen or permanent resident who is designated as part of a minority group which can include Hispanic, Asian Pacific, and Asian-Indian or a woman.
Once certified as M/WBE businesses will have greater access to contract information and opportunities through exclusive classes, networking events, and solicitations, along with access to technical assistance FONY and all of the NYC issued contracts.
Simplifying the Process
FDNY is just one of many fire departments within New York State - among the thousands found across the U.S. - consistently posting new bidding opportunities. With the wide variety of products and services fire departments are looking for, it can be a challenge for vendors to track and monitor all the bids related to their specific business interests, but there are ways to simplify this process.
Many businesses find great value in partnering with a bid intelligence company that can help with the process of researching, locating and tracking relevant bids. Bid intelligence companies collect bids that are posted online and in print form from thousands of local, state and federal government agencies and provide them to their members in an easy-to-manage format.
By partnering with a bid intelligence company, you gain access to the hundreds and thousands of bids these companies gather each year from across the United States and enjoy other benefits as well. For example, BidNet members can set up a personalized business profile in order to receive daily email alerts about new bids that match the specific products and services they provide, in the regions and at the level of government where they want to bid.
The Fire Department of New York City may be the largest in the United States but there are hundreds of other firefighting agencies across country that post bids for service and equipment each day; the key is being able to find them. Whether you choose to seek bids out on your own or partner with a bid intelligence company, the world of government bidding can be an exciting and profitable venture for any business.
Kevin McClintock | BidNet.com