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Lincoln Nebraska & E-One

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  • Lincoln Nebraska & E-One

    Anyone have any insight into the article on Firehouse news today about Lincoln Nebraska Fire and E-One? Here is a short part of the article:

    *LINCOLN -- Police are investigating whether any crimes were committed in the city's purchase of seven firetrucks, at least two of which have been found to be substandard.*

    Sure doesn't sound like the E-one we are familiar with.
    "Firefighters do not regard themselves as heroes because they do what the business requires.”

    Chief Edward F. Croker, FDNY

  • #2
    I know the chief was asked to, and has since, resigned. On a least one of the trucks the spec called for 7 cross members but there were only 4.


    • #3
      Oops! I guess if I had read the article first my last post would not have been needed.

      I had the same article e-mailed to me earlier today.


      • #4
        Link to Story

        LINCOLN -- Police are investigating whether any crimes were committed in the city's purchase of seven firetrucks, at least two of which have been found to be substandard.

        Police Chief Tom Casady assigned the case Monday to the technical investigations unit, which deals with white-collar crime.

        That unit typically investigates financial, fraud, forgery and similar crimes, Casady said.

        Mayor Coleen Seng asked for the police investigation, said Diane Gonzolas, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

        "The mayor wants to make sure that if there are violations, they will be prosecuted," Gonzolas said.

        Seng asked for and received Fire Chief Mike Spadt's resignation on Friday. The city discovered last week that the firetrucks, delivered under a $2 million contract with EDM Equipment Co. in Lincoln, failed to meet bid specifications.

        Spadt and two other city employees had traveled to Ocala, Fla., to inspect the trucks. Fire officials repeatedly said the trucks met specifications.

        A second investigation to determine whether city employees violated personnel rules was announced last week by Seng.

        The city also has assembled a team of mechanics and employees from purchasing, the city attorney and finance offices to determine what specifications were not met.


        • #5
          One of the Seven in question.


          • #6
            It sounds like there might be major troubles in Lincoln...Heres one story from the local paper

            Deena Winter: Fire trucks spark tension, arguments, accusations and scoldings

            Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006 - 12:12:40 am CDT

            The City Council is united on one issue: They don’t like how Mayor Coleen Seng informed them of her decision to ask Fire Chief Mike Spadt to resign.

            On Friday, Seng called a press conference at 2 p.m. to announce Spadt’s resignation over his handling of the firetruck purchase. Just so happens, the council was at City Hall all day Friday for budget meetings.

            In fact, the Fire Department budget was supposed to be discussed at 10:45 a.m., but that got delayed, although the council wasn’t told why.

            The council didn’t know meetings were being held all morning upstairs in the mayor’s office about the fact the firetrucks don’t meet bid specifications, despite fire officials’ repeated assurances, according to the mayor.

            As reporters gathered in the mayor’s conference room on the second floor, the council was having a closed-door “executive session” about possible litigation involving the firetruck purchase.

            As soon as the mayor finished her press conference, she walked straight downstairs and interrupted the council meeting to read her press release to the council.

            Council members were stunned to hear the news and almost as shocked to learn Seng told the press before she informed them.

            “I was irritated, absolutely,” Chairwoman Patte Newman said.

            As the mayor and her aides tried to explain away the sequence of events Monday, Newman broke in, saying: “The council is unified on this” and noting an e-mail announcing Spadt’s resignation was sent to fire employees at 1:10 p.m. and mayoral employees were notifying the media of the conference over the noon hour. All while the council sat downstairs, oblivious.

            Newman was also annoyed council members who were aware of allegations the trucks didn’t meet city requirements — specifically, Jon Camp — didn’t inform colleagues on the council.

            “Sometimes I think there’s too much political posturing going on,” she told the Journal Star.

            Councilman Ken Svoboda said it’s become a pattern for the mayor’s office to neglect to inform the council about certain topics. He suspects the mayor didn’t inform the council of Spadt’s resignation first because Seng didn’t want “council members running to report it” to the media.

            “I think it was politics,” he said. “I think it was a lack of respect.”

            He hand-delivered a letter to the mayor Monday expressing frustration with her actions, considering all of her talk about unity.

            When she met with the council informally on Monday, the mayor acknowledged the council’s feelings on the matter. She said she would have informed council members first but didn’t think they had a break in their schedule.

            She said she wished she had known they had a half-hour break — not to mention about 10 minutes they spent lollygagging while waiting for the city attorney to show up for an executive session before the press conference — because she would have told them first.

            Although she had no problem interrupting their executive session later, after her press conference.

            Council shocked by news

            But putting aside who knew what first, the council also agrees the episode has given the community a “black eye.”

            “What a mess,” is how Svoboda summed up the situation.

            Councilwoman Annette McRoy said her priorities are getting the trucks up to snuff and then figuring out what went wrong in the process so this doesn’t happen again.

            “I don’t know who lied or who did what,” she said.

            McRoy also thinks the city should sever its relationship with the company that won the nearly

            $2 million bid, EDM Equipment Co. of Lincoln.

            “I would just prefer that we not do any more business with EDM in the future,” she said.

            Taking names

            for a new chief

            The mayor told the City Council Monday she’s open to their suggestions for an interim fire chief.

            Councilman Jon Camp suggested Building & Safety Department Director Mike Merwick, who was fire chief from 1980 until 1999, when former Mayor Don Wesely moved Merwick and named Spadt fire chief. Many saw that as a political payoff for Spadt’s help, as firefighter union head, getting Wesely elected.

            Camp was immediately scolded by Seng for not making his suggestion in private — although Merwick would seem to be a logical candidate.

            Tension with media, tension between Camp and Taute

            During the Monday meeting, the personnel director for the city and county, Don Taute, made it clear he’s getting frustrated with KLIN radio host Coby Mach, whom he said questioned his competency on his show Friday.

            Mach was criticizing Seng’s decision to have Taute investigate possible city employee misconduct in connection with the firetruck purchase.

            “He’s getting real close to pushing the envelope over the edge,” Taute said.

            Camp also questioned whether outside entities should investigate the situation, but Taute said it’s his job to review city employees’ conduct and job performance. He can take personnel action without a criminal conviction, he noted.

            “I believe I can conduct this investigation appropriately,” Taute said.

            Camp said he’s getting calls from fire employees who have a lot to say about the Spadt administration, but may not talk to another city employee out of fear of retribution.

            Taute replied by saying he’d be talking to a lot of people, and given what Camp told him, “You may be one of them.”

            Quote of the week

            “I will be asking you for names.” — City-county Personnel Director Don Taute, to Councilman Jon Camp, after Camp said he’s hearing from fire employees who want to talk about Spadt.

            Reach Deena Winter at 473-2642 or [email protected].


            • #7
              And Another....There are also quite a few comments being postedon the www.journalstar.com website.

              Fire union had pushed for Spadt's ouster

              By DEENA WINTER / Lincoln Journal Star
              Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006 - 12:12:40 am CDT

              The Lincoln firefighters union had been pushing Mayor Coleen Seng to get rid of Fire Chief Mike Spadt since last fall, although the current head of the union says he doesn’t think that played a role in Seng’s decision Friday to ask for Spadt’s resignation.

              Dave Engler, president of the Lincoln Firefighters Association, said he attended meetings about “the possibility of making some changes” and the union’s displeasure with Spadt. But he said Seng never committed to doing so.

              “There was a recommendation that she get rid of him but there was never a pounding of the fist on the table and saying, ‘You get rid of him.’”

              Engler said Spadt told him in January he was “on the chopping block” due to union opposition. Engler served six years as the union’s vice president and took over as president in January, replacing Mark Munger.

              Spadt, a former union president, declined to comment Tuesday.

              Seng said she asked for Spadt’s resignation because despite his repeated assurances, the city’s new firetrucks don’t meet the city’s specifications.

              In an interview, Seng initially deflected questions about whether the union had lobbied her to remove Spadt.

              “I have probably heard that about every single director in this city through the years,” she said. “I can’t tell you that’s been anything that’s been stated. That stuff goes on all the time.”

              Asked whether firefighters’ union heads — particularly Munger — had lobbied for Spadt’s removal, Seng said “You’re asking me to stretch pretty deep. That doesn’t really have anything to do with what has gone on right now. I asked for Mike Spadt’s resignation because of the firetrucks.”

              Munger could not be reached to comment.

              The firefighters union has been credited with helping get Seng elected through its endorsement, campaign contributions and some door-to-door campaigning. Republican Ken Svoboda, who plans to run for mayor next year, has been courting the fire union.

              Engler said in its meetings with Seng the union discussed problems with Spadt, particularly the bad publicity surrounding the ambulance service’s growing deficit, personnel issues, the time it was taking to get new firetrucks and less than prompt responses to problems.

              “There were numerous times when some of our members said that because of all the negative press they felt we ought to take a look at changing the fire chief or asking the mayor to change the fire chief,” he said.

              But he said he doesn’t think the union’s position had anything to do with Seng’s decision Friday to ask for Spadt’s resignation.

              Engler said the union did not threaten to yank its support for Seng, should she run for re-election next year. Union endorsements are decided after interviews and questionnaires are done in the spring, he said.

              Asked why she didn’t order an investigation first and then decide whether Spadt should be removed, Seng said, “That’s what the mayor has the power to do.”

              Reach Deena Winter at 473-2642 or [email protected].


              • #8
                What was wrong with these trucks? was it minor things changed or major things deleted from the spec?


                • #9
                  Sounds like one big politicaly motivated mess between the chief and the union, city council and the mayor, and the rigs being used as an excuse for the opposed groups to achive their goals.

                  Not the first time this has ever occured.

                  From the picture I'd be happy to have one of the rigs!


                  • #10
                    More info...

                    Fire truck purchase fraught with problems

                    BY DEENA WINTER / Lincoln Journal Star
                    Sunday, Jul 09, 2006 - 12:11:41 am CDT

                    The resignation Friday of Lincoln’s fire chief was the culmination of a fire truck purchase that has taken two years and many twists and turns along the way.

                    As of Friday, all but one of the seven trucks ordered had arrived in Lincoln, but not before bids, rebids, threatened lawsuits, missed deadlines and hundreds of thousands of dollars in late fees.

                    The long and winding road began when the city solicited bids in June 2004 on the nearly $2 million contract to replace half its aging fleet of pumpers.

                    Lincoln truck dealer EDM Equipment Co. won the contract and ordered the trucks built by Florida manufacturer E-One. But hurricanes and scheduling problems bumped things off track, and by the time the first truck was delivered in February, the deal was more than two months behind schedule and EDM faced $470,000 in late fees, according to City Finance Director Don Herz.

                    The city acknowledged there were legitimate reasons for some of the delays, and, in April, Mayor Coleen Seng agreed to push back the deadlines and waive the late fees. But EDM has missed new deadlines since and as of Friday had racked up another $168,000 in late fees, which are growing at a rate of $3,000 a day until the last of seven fire trucks is delivered to the city.

                    EDM’s president, however, says any lateness was caused by extenuating circumstances, including a shortage of drivers to get the trucks to Nebraska and acts of God, specifically hurricanes.

                    Five of the trucks are in service, a sixth is getting finishing touches in EDM’s shop on West O Street and the seventh broke down with engine problems in St. Louis.

                    “We’re anxious to get them in service,” Fire Chief Mike Spadt said earlier this week.

                    That was an understatement.

                    By week’s end, he would be asked to resign by the mayor because she said he disregarded the fact the trucks did not meet the city’s bid specifications, primarily because their frames have fewer cross beams than required.

                    Who’s to blame?

                    Why has it taken two years to get new fire trucks?

                    The city blames EDM.

                    EDM blames hurricanes and city officials’ unavailability for truck inspections.

                    And E-One, the company that built the trucks in Ocala, Fla., says it didn’t miss any deadlines.

                    As city officials were wringing their hands over what was taking so long, the head of E-One’s marketing department, Scott Weishaar, said the last two trucks had been sitting at the Florida plant for almost a year.

                    “We have to be paid for our product before it leaves,” said George Logan, E-One’s director of dealer operations.

                    The same plant built and delivered 40 fire trucks to Kansas City, Mo., in the past year. Conrad Fire Equipment of Olathe, Kan., was involved in that $14 million deal, and all of the deadlines were met, according to Kansas City Fire Chief Smokey Dyer.

                    And in the past two years, the McCook Fire Department bought two trucks from EDM that were manufactured at the Ocala E-One plant. McCook Fire Chief Marc Harpham said he had no problem with EDM or E-One, even though the first truck was about four months late due, in part, to hurricanes.

                    Again, who’s to blame?

                    EDM President Jeff Mellen points to the city’s request to add “vehicle information centers” — basically, on-board computers — to the trucks, and the fact that Spadt and Assistant Fire Chief John Huff were unable to do a final inspection so work could proceed because their search and rescue team was deployed to hurricane-stricken areas.

                    Mellen points to a provision in his contract saying the truck deliveries were contingent upon the city signing off on orders as to how it wanted the trucks built.

                    “I’m not going to admit that any of the trucks were delivered late,” he said.

                    Headaches from the beginning

                    The process of getting new fire trucks on Lincoln’s streets was a rough ride right out of the chute.

                    The mayor initially was going to award the bid to EDM, but other bidders said EDM came in the lowest only because it didn’t meet bid specifications, and that it was improperly given a waiver on certain bid specs that other bidders weren’t notified about. One of those disputed bid specs was the number of cross members on the trucks.

                    In November 2004, a city Procurement Appeals Board concluded the bidding process was flawed and ordered it start over. The mayor ordered the city’s purchasing agent, who had raised concerns about the way the initial process was handled, to step aside and tapped her finance director to oversee the rebid.

                    EDM was the lowest, at $284,600 per truck, about $6,000 lower than its previous low bid.

                    But Mellen said the schedule began to go off track when hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, creating scheduling problems and making it difficult for folks from the fire department and EDM to find housing in Florida so they could inspect the trucks.

                    In April 2005, the mayor granted EDM an extension due to hurricane complications and scheduling problems, forgiving $470,000 in damages, or late fees, according to City Finance Director Don Herz.

                    Since then, EDM has racked up $168,000 in late fees, Herz calculated, because the last two trucks were not delivered by a revised deadline of April 24, 2006. Herz said city officials were “quite disappointed.”

                    “We’ve simply been told that they’re going to be delivered or (are) expected to be shipped on a certain date,” he said. “That hasn’t happened on a couple of occasions.”

                    Mellen said “outside, extenuating circumstances” prevented the last two trucks from being delivered by April 24. As for the late fees, or damages, he said, “I’m not in a position to comment on what the city is or is not going to charge.”

                    Until the mayor granted the April 2005 extension, EDM had delivered the first truck but refused to deliver the second until the dispute over damages was resolved, said Assistant City Attorney Steve Huggenberger.

                    City Councilman Jon Camp criticized the mayor for waiving some of the damages, but Huggenberger said if the city had taken a hard line, a protracted legal battle could have delayed delivery of the rest of the trucks for another year or more — and several of the city’s aging fire trucks were in critical condition.

                    “Nobody’s gonna roll over” and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, he said, and EDM had demonstrated its willingness to litigate during the bidding process by filing a complaint in court seeking to uphold Seng’s initial decision to award the bid to EDM.

                    “In our mind, there was a significant public safety component to our thought process,” Huggenberger said.

                    Mellen said he “absolutely, categorically” denies he was holding the trucks hostage. He said he merely told the city, “Let’s get this fixed up so we don’t have a delay.”

                    Camp is frustrated with the way the city has handled the deal, but it’s clear city officials have become similarly frustrated with EDM.

                    “If you’re asking us whether any of us were happy with EDM, no, we were not,” Huggenberger said.

                    Mellen, however, was nothing but complimentary of city officials.

                    “The city’s been very gracious and very amicable to work with,” he said.

                    That was on Wednesday, two days before the fire chief would be asked to step down.

                    Heads roll

                    Just as the City Council was beginning a closed-door session to discuss possible litigation over the fire trucks, Seng was calling reporters to a quickly arranged Friday press conference at which she announced Spadt’s resignation.

                    Seng said she asked him to resign upon learning the trucks did not meet the city’s specifications, particularly with regard to the number of cross members between the truck frames.

                    She placed Huff on paid administrative leave while the truck deficiencies are investigated and put Assistant Chief Rich Furasek in charge until she can name an interim chief.

                    Normally, EDM would be paid for the trucks after they were outfitted at its shop and delivered to the city. The city owes EDM about $260,000 for the last two trucks, and intends to charge EDM late charges. Huggenberger said until the city decides how to correct the trucks’ deficiencies, there will be no payments to EDM.

                    Dan Kreikemeier, president of Danko Emergency Equipment Co. in Snyder, a losing bidder for the fire truck contract, was feeling vindicated after Seng’s action on Friday.

                    Kreikemeier had recently inspected one of Lincoln’s new trucks and said it didn’t meet about 10 of the bid specifications, including the number of cross members.

                    He’s a dealer for Smeal Fire Apparatus in Snyder, about 70 miles north of Lincoln, which, he hastens to add, is where the trucks would have been built if he had won the bid. But he said he had to raise his bid to get the trucks built as fast as Lincoln wanted.

                    “I’ve been doing this for over 40 years and I’ve never been involved in something like this,” he said. “If I would have gotten the order they’d have had all (the trucks) three or four months ago. . . . After all the stuff that’s going on, I sometimes think I’m better off not dealing with Lincoln.”

                    No stranger to controversy

                    This isn’t the first time EDM has been involved in a controversial contract with the city.

                    In 2000, the world’s largest ambulance maker, Wheeled Coach, accused the Lincoln Fire Department of rigging the city’s purchasing process to favor EDM when taking bids for 11 ambulances. EDM has sold Lincoln all of its fire trucks since 1994.

                    EDM’s low bid was rejected because the company wouldn’t agree to damages if the ambulances weren’t delivered on time. So the second lowest bidder, an Ohio company, got the bid. EDM protested, saying the company didn’t have a Nebraska dealership license.

                    The contract was re-bid, and EDM won. At the time, Spadt chalked the ambulance brouhaha up to politics.

                    Last week, Mellen said politics were playing a part in the controversy over the trucks.

                    “There are too many outside factions fighting with this administration ... and I keep getting caught in the middle without a flak jacket on.”

                    By Friday, he wasn’t returning phone calls from the Journal Star.

                    Reach Deena Winter at 473-2642 or [email protected].



                    • #11
                      This is like reading a bad soap opera.

                      the last two trucks had been sitting at the Florida plant for almost a year.

                      the schedule began to go off track when hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, creating scheduling problems and making it difficult for folks from the fire department and EDM to find housing in Florida so they could inspect the trucks
                      Wow! Wow!
                      "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


                      • #12
                        7 crossmembers

                        Gentlemen this is a big deal having only four crossmembers, just some history previous e-ones purchased by Lincoln had frame failures associated with not having enough crossmembers. This required extensive repairs and apparatus having to be taken out of service for several weeks. Irregaurdless of politics, the union stepping in to insure that Firefighters are riding on safe equipment and that apparatus meet specs is ok in my book! According to some of the articles sounds like red flags have been flying for quite some time over this chief, and no one at city hall was listening. Without any response from city officials, this probably looked like a good opportunity for the union to get something done!!


                        • #13
                          Something is wrong in all of this. No major builder is ever going to deviate fron standard process (ie. less crossmembers than standard). The builder assumes the liability and warranty on components such as this for a minimum of ten years. Building a frame with only four crossmembers in lieu of seven would surely jump up and bite them in the butt. The excuse of the hurricanes may hold up things for a couple of weeks but no more than the time frame suggested in the last article. There is much more to this story than simply blaming E-One.


                          • #14
                            Why would E-one only put in four crossmembers. That sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. I would like to here E-ones side of the story, as to if specs were really changed, or it was just an excuse to get rid of the Chief.


                            • #15
                              Could this be a case where E-One builds with 4 cross-members as engineered and Lincoln FD specced 7 due to prior issues. It seems quite unlikely that E-One would take that great a risk, to not install the proper number. If they did, I could see them going under after everyone out there who owns an E-One will want to have their trucks checked for adequate safety. This is a huge allegation!! And regardless of my or anyones opinion of E-One, they seem a little to big to be caught cutting corners like that.


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