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Sumner WA--Buying a Lemon

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  • Sumner WA--Buying a Lemon

    Article From The Tacoma News Tribune

    Sumner sheds troubled firetruck

    ROB TUCKER; The News Tribune
    Last updated: September 28th, 2006 01:00 AM (PDT)

    Sumner has returned its troubled new firetruck to the manufacturer and has received its $197,810 down payment back.
    The city and Sumner Fire District No. 1, who partnered to buy the pumper truck, said the purchase contract with American LaFrance Co. is canceled.

    The company, based near Charleston, S.C., said Wednesday that the April 18 purchase deal was concluded in a mutually satisfactory manner.

    The city plans to buy another new engine – not from American LaFrance – and is looking at regrouping its fire service as emergency calls and overhead costs increase, said Mayor Dave Enslow.

    The star-crossed firetruck kept breaking down, due to electrical and engine problems, and it never responded to an emergency call.

    “You can’t afford a breakdown,” Enslow said. “The people expect you to be there.”

    Sumner isn’t the only government reporting problems with American LaFrance fire engines. The city had contacted officials at Everett, Bellingham, Vancouver, Woodinville and White Salmon, all of whom reported problems.

    So did the San Francisco Fire Department after buying 10 American LaFrance engines for $3.5 million in the past year. The pumper engines have primer motors that are shorting out, door handles and passenger windows that break, faulty water pressure relief pipes that flood electrical systems and sirens that won’t turn off, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

    The joke going around station houses, the newspaper reported, is that if the Big One hits, the city service garage is the best place to be because that’s where all the rescue equipment is.

    The Fire Department says the problems are typical of those in any new engines and will be worked out, the newspaper said.

    The manufacturer agreed.

    “American LaFrance is very in tune to satisfying customers and if there are problems, we’ll fix them,” said Karen Haun, company spokeswoman.

    Haun said Wednesday the company tried hard to fix Sumner’s problems.

    “They tried,” said Assistant Fire Chief John McDonald. “But they were not successful.”

    The city bought the pumper to replace a 1991 engine and demote it to backup status. But the old engine must now remain in front-line service until another new engine is bought.

    Sumner originally agreed to pay a total of $432,000. McDonald said no tail lights, brake lights or turn signals would operate at the rear of the new engine. Later the engine quit running at least three times, he said.

    FULL MERGER RECOMMEND

    In addition to changes with the vehicle fleet, Sumner city officials are looking at a broader plan to regroup its fire service.

    The City Council this week heard from Dick Moore, a former Sumner and Tacoma fire chief, who advised a full merger between the city Fire Department and East Pierce Fire & Rescue. The city already contracts with Dan Packer, chief of East Pierce, to double as Sumner chief.

    East Pierce serves more than 60,000 people in the City of Bonney Lake and in surrounding areas, including Lake Tapps and around Buckley and South Prairie.

  • #2
    The Fire Department says the problems are typical of those in any new engines and will be worked out, the newspaper said.
    Why are Fire Departments starting to accept crap that does not work? I'm sorry, but unless there is something new and untested on the vehicle, it should all work. Just because there are 1000 gadgets doesn't give them the Ok to have 990 work and 10 not. WHY are Fire Departments accepting this?
    "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?

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    • #3
      Inspection trips are a perc where the taxpayer pays for multiple all expense paid junkets to the beach/casino/shopping/etc. No work or time is required actually inspecting/testing/driving the truck.

      Comment


      • #4
        not allowed

        I used to go on the preinspection trips (usually one at the half and one at the final stage) with some of the department chiefs but I'm not allowed to go anymore. Seems I found problems that needed corrective action and that made somebody look bad. Unless builders are held accountable and nothing but their best work is accepted it will be garbage in and garbage out.

        Comment


        • #5
          "Inspection trips are a perc where the taxpayer pays for multiple all expense paid junkets to the beach/casino/shopping/etc. No work or time is required actually inspecting/testing/driving the truck."


          A rather broad statement, neiowa. While I would agree with you that some trips are just what you describe I think that most are well worth the effort. My expierence has been that the committees work very hard during the day inspecting the truck. Do they drink at night and have a good time. Sure they do. But next day they are back on the job.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by neiowa
            Inspection trips are a perc where the taxpayer pays for multiple all expense paid junkets to the beach/casino/shopping/etc. No work or time is required actually inspecting/testing/driving the truck.
            Only where this is allowed to happen. I just returned from a midinspection. Just two guys, 1 suburban, 900 miles. The City in the end paid for 2 night hotels, fuel and part of meals. No shopping, gambling or beaches. Less drinks than either one of us would have drank in one night 10-15 years ago. One full day at the factory inspecting and looking at other apparatus for ideas and improvements. Oh by the way, damn glad we did the trip too, so we could get a few things fixed before final paint. Would have been a real shame to have to reject a truck based on minor details and wait an extra 2-3 months for corrections and another final. I suspect most of us who have specced and bought trucks without doing mid inspection are living with mistakes we could have fixed!! I'm certain we are.

            In fact as a taxpayer I would want to be assured that when the City buys a half million dollar peice of life saving equipment, that they're getting what they asked for or better! If your dept. can't be trusted to do an inspection trip, you have major issues!!
            Last edited by RFDACM02; 10-06-2006, 10:55 PM. Reason: incomplete

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by neiowa
              Inspection trips are a perc where the taxpayer pays for multiple all expense paid junkets to the beach/casino/shopping/etc. No work or time is required actually inspecting/testing/driving the truck.
              Are you kidding? Usually I agree with what you post, but on every inspection trip I've been on (for my department), and every trip I've taken a customer on as a salesman - we didn't gamble, look at ho-haas, drink excessively, etc. We did however find things that we forgot to spec, things that weren't done the way we thought we had described, etc.

              If you're that worried about the dollars and cents of it, tell the bidders that you will be taking care of the expenses of the trip on your own, and to not include it in the price. I know we don't make any money on our trips, and depending on fuel costs, number of folks that go and so forth - often come out in the red for what we budgeted for trips.

              I'm not saying I don't enjoy the trips to inspect our new rigs, but I also go with the full intent of looking the rig over inch by inch. As a salesman, I'm there for the customer, not so much the builder... If I see something I think needs attention, I bring it up.
              Last edited by npfd801; 10-07-2006, 12:18 AM.
              "Share your knowledge - it's a way to achieve immortality." - Stolen from Chase Sargent's Buddy to Boss program

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by neiowa
                Inspection trips are a perc where the taxpayer pays for multiple all expense paid junkets to the beach/casino/shopping/etc. No work or time is required actually inspecting/testing/driving the truck.
                From a post I made on another thread...

                When you are spending hundreds of thousands and in some cases up to a million dollars for a new rig, how much would round trip airfare, a rental car and a couple of nights in a hotel cost in comparison?

                Pre delivery inspections are a no brainer as far as I am concerned!
                ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
                Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

                Comment


                • #9
                  Inspection Trips A Waste? NOT!

                  NEIOWA- Inspection trips are a perc where the taxpayer pays for multiple all expense paid junkets to the beach/casino/shopping/etc. No work or time is required actually inspecting/testing/driving the truck.

                  I think that statement is ludicris.. Yes some may send too many people who just walk around the truck and go ooo, awww and look forward to the free T shirts. jackets and hats..

                  But MOST do a great job of inspecting the truck completely from front to back and testing everything to make sure it's built correctly to the spec and also that everything is functioning properly. Sometimes you find things that need/should be changed to make the apparatus more effective but it goes with the territory!

                  I feel sorry for LVwrench as I've seen that happen before but at least CYA and then place the responsiblity on those chief's who accept a truck that doesn't meet the spec! (Shades of Lincoln NE and the E One's)

                  I wouldn't allow a new apparatus to be delivered WITHOUT a final inspection even if I had to pay the costs myself to ensure the truck is what was spec'd and ordered and meets all the requirements of the original spec and or any change orders.

                  If your spending considerable taxpayer $'s you owe it to them and the FF to ensure the apparatus is what you paid for!

                  Don't know of any beaches or shopping malls in Nebraska or Colorado!~

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    [QUOTE=RalphSafety]Article From The Tacoma News Tribune

                    Sumner sheds troubled firetruck



                    “American LaFrance is very in tune to satisfying customers and if there are problems, we’ll fix them,” said Karen Haun, company spokeswoman.

                    Haun said Wednesday the company tried hard to fix Sumner’s problems.


                    I'm glad to see that a fire dept. some where is atleast getting something done about their (Lemon) truck. It would be nice if they would do this for all their trucks that came out like this! As for the above statement I don't believe it.BE SAFE
                    Last edited by dday05; 10-07-2006, 10:22 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A Very Strange Twist to the Story

                      Fire captain in Sumner fired over side job

                      ROB TUCKER; The News Tribune
                      Published: October 20th, 2006 01:00 AM

                      A Sumner Fire Department captain violated conflict-of-interest laws by working on the side for a fire engine manufacturer while the city was acquiring a new vehicle from the company, city and state officials reported Thursday.
                      It is the same fire engine that broke down several times this year and never went out on a single emergency call. The city eventually returned the vehicle and recently got back all the money it paid.

                      Sumner fired the employee Wednesday after an investigation. Neither the city nor the state auditor’s office disclosed his name, but federal court documents in a related case say he is fire Capt. Pat Risley.

                      City Administrator John Doan said Sumner officials couldn’t have foreseen the situation. He said the city will clarify its policies requiring employees to report outside business activities.

                      “We couldn’t avoid it,” Doan said Thursday. “You have to rely on employees to follow the law.”

                      In May 2005, the city signed a contract for $395,620 to buy a fire engine from American LaFrance, a company based near Charleston, S.C.

                      Sumner received two bids from fire engine manufacturers. American LaFrance was the low bidder.

                      Risley was the chairman of the committee that prepared the bid specifications. Sumner fire administrators got a tip that he was representing American LaFrance in a vendor booth last June.

                      The city investigated and discovered in August that he had accepted a job as a sales representative for American LaFrance in March. He was still serving as a fire captain and hadn’t told the city about his other job, according to the audit and city officials.

                      He also served as the city’s only agent authorized to make changes in the contract with American LaFrance and to handle fire engine inspections, including the final one, officials said. He received a monthly salary of $750 plus expenses as a sales representative for the company and a commission on all equipment sold, the city and auditors said.

                      City officials reported the violations to state auditors, who completed an accountability audit report that will be officially released today.

                      State auditors said in their report that the fire captain approved more than $3,000 in contract change orders, including one for $250 after he went on the payroll for American LaFrance.

                      City Councilman Matt Richardson said he didn’t believe that Risley “fudged on change orders.” He said it wasn’t the fire captain’s fault that the fire engine didn’t perform. But he said the captain, a 20-year-plus veteran, should have known he was in a conflict-of-interest situation.

                      The captain received no commission on Sumner’s payment for the fire engine, officials said.

                      Neither Risley nor American LaFrance officials returned phone calls Thursday.

                      The Sumner fire union has taken steps toward filing a grievance in his dismissal, said City Attorney Pat Bosmans. In response, the city filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, contending that his firing cannot be the subject of a grievance under the city’s labor contract with firefighters.

                      About the time the city bought the firetruck last year, Sumner was phasing out its century-old Fire Department. Last year, the chief of East Pierce Fire and Rescue took over management of Sumner’s department, and the city is now negotiating a full consolidation with the fire district.

                      Comment

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