I am shocked that Glendale Fire Captain Joe Hester is attacking Freightliner Arizona with baseless facts and trying to characterize our organization as not wanting to support the safety of the firefighters in Glendale.
In his opinion piece, “Fire truck manufacturers should stick to the facts,” he pointed out that Freightliner of Arizona was offering an inferior product that lacked the extruded body and cab, the telma auxiliary brake in our proposal. Maybe he never got a chance to look at our proposal, but it included those items at a price of $422,838, plus tax.
We spent a great deal of time trying to get specific information in written form so we could verify we were providing exactly what Glendale Fire wanted. What we received were a couple of verbal “must haves”: extruded body and cab, telma brake and electronic valves. These items were all supplied in our proposal. We even went as far as going to a Glendale Fire Station to measure the body and compartment dimensions so we could have Rosenbauer duplicate them and draw up the apparatus to best match the equipment being used by the department today.
It is insulting that Hester or any firefighter might feel that Freightliner of Arizona would condone providing inferior or unsafe fire apparatus to any community, least of all Glendale Fire. We know there are severe budget issues facing the community and some of the “must have options” are very expensive and not widely used throughout the industry. Freightliner of Arizona’s proposal included all of these items, but communicated to the department that there were less expensive, more widely-used options that could be provided, thus saving the department and Glendale money so that these funds could be used for other purposes in the department.
Hester claims that all of the communities around Arizona have these options. I would ask that he investigate this claim, because he will find that 80 percent do not have extruded bodies; 90 percent do not have telma brakes; and about 90 percent do not have electronic valves. These items are available on fire trucks and fit certain purposes, but the cost versus the benefit has been reviewed by most of Hester’s fellow firefighters and they chose not to have these items on their apparatus. I am sure that Hester feels that these are needed in Glendale, but the majority of firefighters do not. There is no data that would indicate that these items improve safety for a firefighter. If there was, the National Fire Protection Association, which provides governance over firefighter safety, would require these devices on all fire apparatus.
Freightliner of Arizona has been providing fire apparatus and parts, service and warranty to Arizona fire departments since 1998, and did not just return to selling fire trucks as Hester said. We have participated with most of the major fire departments in bids and RFPs. We have never had to approach a city council about how we were treated in the procurement process. We have never suggested that firefighters should ever be put in unsafe apparatus or conditions. We believe quite the opposite. We understand, probably better then most, the importance of firefighter safety and how vehicle specification and design can insure it.
It is extremely unfortunate that Hester has been misinformed about what we provided to the Glendale Fire Department. I am providing him with a copy of what we submitted to Glendale so he can confirm what I am telling him is the truth. I hope he realizes that our objection on the way the procurement process was handled was not an attack on Glendale firefighters, but on the people who were responsible to conduct themselves as professionals and fiduciaries of the community.
I think that when all the facts weigh in, Hester will see that Freightliner of Arizona was misled and provided inaccurate information on which we provided a proposal. The apparatus our competitor proposed to Glendale Fire was not the same design and more expensive, resulting in the council being asked to approve $484,000-plus instead of the $422,838 we bid. With sales tax, our bid only comes to $457,934, and we can even provide a $17,000 prepayment discount. That leaves more than $26,000 unaccounted for. Doesn’t that concern you? It sure did us. Especially when we knew we included the “must have” components and told that our bid was high bid. It just doesn’t add up.
Freightliner of Arizona is not the enemy of Glendale firefighters. That is not why we brought this issue to the council. We did it because the procurement process to purchase this new fire truck was broken. We want to participate in a fair and transparent process where the most competitive and responsible bidder wins the award. We look forward to participating in the new RFP that Glendale Fire will be issuing. We hope the process will be fair so if we provide the best, safest and most competitive fire truck, Glendale Fire will want to do business with us.