Haverhill Officials Scramble as Gasoline Tank Runs Dry

The July 1 transition from one fuel dealer to another caught the city off guard.

It happens to every driver at one time or another—that hope one will be lucky enough to squeeze a few more miles out of the gas tank even when the arrow points to “empty.”

For city vehicles refueling at the Department of Public Works (DPW) garage earlier this week, those hopes were dashed when the city’s 6,000-gallon gasoline tank ran dry. The problem was blamed on the time needed to adjust from one fuel dealer to another.

“There was just a little bit of transition that we needed,” said city Purchasing Agent and Energy Manager Orlando Pacheco. He explained the new low bidder for fuel, Global Montello Group Corp. of Waltham, could not install their metering software until after July 1, when the new contract took effect.

City departments, including police, fire and DPW, reportedly had to rely on an “emergency backup procedure” and purchase gas at authorized retail stations when the gas ran out. The previous vendor, Dennis K. Burke of Chelsea, stepped up with one last delivery, Pacheco said. “They’ve always been a good vendor for the city,” Pacheco said of Burke.

Haverhill participates in a fuel-buying consortium, led by Andover. During the last round of bids, Global Montello came in lower than Burke, Pacheco explained. Besides the 6,000-gallon gasoline tank, the city also relies on vendors to fill a 4,000-gallon diesel fuel tank at the DPW garage, 500 Primrose St. Communities pay for fuel based on a commodity index plus a markup to the dealer.

“They monitor tank levels remotely…Each company installs their own software to monitor tank levels to put in automatic deliveries,” Pacheco said. “We have started to receive deliveries from the new vendor,” the purchasing agent said, pointing to a diesel fuel refill.

The emergency backup procedure, allowing for the temporary use of private gas stations, was adopted years ago to ensure snow plows and emergency equipment could continue operating if fuel ran low.

3 thoughts on “Haverhill Officials Scramble as Gasoline Tank Runs Dry

  1. Poop happens huh ? No biggie. This stuff happens when you switch vendors. But they had a plan in place in case something like this happened. That’s all that matters.

  2. Do you think that someone was “asleep at the switch,” and didn’t make arrangements for a vendor change in sufficient time to make it happen? Did someone NOT fully discuss what was needed in order to facilitate the vendor change to happen before the City ran out of petrol?