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    Default Clash with Mayor Over New Truck Gives Pa. Chief Chest Pains

    Hmmmm...I wonder why the Fire Chief didn't want to discuss it in public???


    Clash with Mayor Over New Truck Gives Pa. Chief Chest Pains

    Paul Paterra
    -

    Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)

    Posted: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 01:42

    Jeannette council's first work session this year brought a heated discussion over the purchase of a new ladder truck for the fire company before the fire chief left the meeting with chest pains.

    New Mayor Robert Carter on Monday asked for a motion on tonight's agenda to buy a 95-foot ladder truck from Sutphen Corp. of Columbus, Ohio, for $774,734.34.

    The move angered fire Chief Mike Bertolino, who said the matter should not have been discussed in public. Bertolino favors a truck from Pierce Manufacturing, based in Wisconsin, which costs $776,268.

    The chief said the truck from Sutphen doesn't offer as standard equipment such as rollover protection or air bags, and said Pierce planned to offer a $35,000 trade-in.

    "The two trucks are pretty comparable, but the one the mayor wants doesn't meet what's best for the city and the department," Bertolino said Tuesday from a hospital bed at Excela Westmoreland Hospital at Jeannette.

    A federal grant of $750,000 (of which the city's share will be $37,500) will offset the cost of the truck, with help from a $30,000 donation from the Elliott Co.

    "I'm trying to make it so the city doesn't have to pay anything," Bertolino said. "I have until August to make this purchase. ... I'm the chief of the fire department. Council appointed me to that position to make these decisions. I don't run a dictatorship down there, but it is final, overall, my say what equipment we purchase."

    During Monday's meeting, Carter stood by his assertion the truck from Sutphen would be a better buy. He said it would not require alterations to the fire station and and could better maneuver city streets.

    "My feelings and his feelings are two different feelings," said Carter, who also is a volunteer firefighter. "The truck that I am looking at right now is, in my mind and also in facts and figures, the most feasible truck for the taxpayers in the city of Jeannette."

    The conversation grew increasingly heated, especially when Carter wanted opinions from fire captains Randy Dubich and Joe Matijevic.

    "I know what they're going to say," Bertolino said. "They've got their heads so far up your (expletive), it's ridiculous."

    That prompted a brief verbal confrontation between Dubich and Bertolino. Dubich took issue with the comment from Bertolino, while the chief said Dubich never stands up for anything.

    "Why don't you just put it on the agenda, because that's what you want," Bertolino said to Carter. "Next month, you can promote Joe or Randy to the chief's position and be done with it. That's all I've got to say, it's ridiculous. ... It's my job to make these decisions."

    The chief left the meeting, then briefly returned to ask to be excused because of illness. Bertolino spent Monday night and most of yesterday at the hospital.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Have to be honest...roll over protection and air bags were simply NOT a deciding factor in any fire apparatus we have purchased.

    If that Town/Department setup is similar to mine, our truck committee makes a recommendation to the Town Council as to what to purchase, it goes out to bid, low bid wins as long as it meets the specs. It is up to committee to sort that out with the Town Engineer, who then sends the recommendation to Council. They can approve that recommendation or go with one of the other bids, or do nothing at all. FD may not like it, but the Town purchases and owns all the vehicles.

    I am not aware of anytime that the Town did not accept the committee and engineers recommendation.

    Of course, reading that article, I'm thinking there are a few more problems (than just this truck) in that department unfortunately.
    "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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    It is unfortunate, but the fire service is connected to politics like a Dalmatian is attached to his spots.

    Fire service nirvana is having lots of money and no politics.

    I'm still searching...

    C6

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    It sounds like the chief has been sipping a little too much of the Appleton Kool-aid. If not getting a Piece makes him have chest pains.

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    I grew up in the area, and I can tell you from when i was doing my homework for the replacement of our truck, they are going to have a night mare of a time getting a MM Pierce around that town simply becsue of the rear overhang. But n speaking with sources close to the situation, if they go with the pierce it won't cost the city any money, and the City is far from being wealthy.
    They currently have an early 1970's 75' Mack/Backer Aerial Scope and it has seen better days, It was redurbed about 10 years ago, but if memory serves me right nothingwas done to the aerial itself. It's worked fine for them over the years, I would suggest having it refurbes and remounted.
    But its a damn shame no matter how you look at it.
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    Post Ladder or Tower ??

    Are they getting a 95ft stick or tower ladder truck, sounds like a great price from both buiders. Most towers are going for about $ 950k to over 1 million dollars!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Have to be honest...roll over protection and air bags were simply NOT a deciding factor in any fire apparatus we have purchased.

    If that Town/Department setup is similar to mine, our truck committee makes a recommendation to the Town Council as to what to purchase, it goes out to bid, low bid wins as long as it meets the specs. It is up to committee to sort that out with the Town Engineer, who then sends the recommendation to Council. They can approve that recommendation or go with one of the other bids, or do nothing at all. FD may not like it, but the Town purchases and owns all the vehicles.

    I am not aware of anytime that the Town did not accept the committee and engineers recommendation.

    Of course, reading that article, I'm thinking there are a few more problems (than just this truck) in that department unfortunately.
    Agree! What's in the citizens, tax payers, fire fighters best interest? Can we afford it?

    Anytime you get ONE person making the final decision on a major purchase like this it's bound to cause problems. Just a few years ago our chief who is in with the dealer made the final decision to get the rig he wanted. This was after going through a truck committee disreguarding any of our thoughts and decisions. So the chief who has little knowledge to our needs bought us a truck that was not only not practical for our town but the firefighters too and has had significant problems. We've since got a new chief and recently purchased a new rig. We first went through city council to see what the town could afford followed by our specifications and bidding. Unfortunately, we weren't able to afford some of the luxuries we originally wanted (A/C, LED light bar, alloy wheels) but we now have a rig that is practical to our town and fire fighters. Fortunately the truck has turned out to be a rig everyone loves working on and we're confident it'll serve us well for many years to come.
    Last edited by Samantha sweets; 01-14-2010 at 08:19 PM.

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    This sounds like small town politics and a power struggle, rather than Pierce Vs. Stuphen.

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    Talking

    Lets see if I'm reading this correctly:
    AFG = [we the taxpayers] are Paying 750,000.00
    Elliot company is donating 30,000.00
    new truck is 775,000.00 +/-
    Town will have to pay 0000000000 nada
    the mayor is a firefighter on the department
    the captains are in agreement with the mayor

    The Sutphen will actually fit in the fire station without alterations to the building
    Pierce is allegedly offering a 35k kickback [trade in ] on a 1970's vintage Baker/scope

    The chief is having a heart attack because he can't have his Pierce

    Sounds like the chief might need to take a medical retirement

    Things that make you wonder

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    For the price sounds like a stick. I love those Baker scopes. 75ft is a good length for smaller cities. I would love to trade him a 95ft. platform for the Baker. Maybe I should wait a while and make that offer to the new chief. OOOH! That was bad to say while he is in the hosptal. But for real if they trade it in, someone should post it. If that donít break the rules.

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    Thumbs down What a joke!!!!!!!

    I was in there with one of our cash for clunkers trucks, the last things on their mind are manueverability and cost. If any manufacturer wants to give somebody else out there a heart murmur just knock fifty large off and somebody will probably go into arrest.


    For whatever part of that $750,000.00 came out of my taxes, knock yourselves out! Somebody gives you guys $750,000.00 in this economy and your situation and you act like morons. In Public!!!!!!!!

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    Question Air Bags

    In regards to the comment by the chief about wanting air bags and roll protection air bags.
    IMHO this is nothing but a BIG marketing ploy. The air bags and roll protection air bags are not effective UNLESS the seat belt is being worn. From what I've seen of all the accidents we see reported on the various fire service websites, with the big enclosed cabs, if you wear your seat belt, usually the result is a few minor bumps and bruises.
    It doesn't look to me, that the added cost and complexity of air bags is worth much!

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    Quote Originally Posted by donethat View Post
    In regards to the comment by the chief about wanting air bags and roll protection air bags.
    Isn't Pierce the only builder that offers roll protection bags?
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Our town gave us some major issues with the purchase of our 2 new trucks. I come from a firehouse where we use pierce and hahns. Since Hahns are not available and we have had a great experience through our pierce dealer and the actual fire truck itself we decided once again to spec a pierce. After dealings with the town and other politics......3 years later the trucks are being finished and this Sunday we are leaving to go do the final inspection. As frustrating and angering it can be with politicians in your town you still have to keep your cool and stay professional. My chief never went in and started screaming and yelling or acting like a complete ***. We took our hits but we kept going. Even when Pierce made us aware that their cost is going to go and it would add an extra i think 10% onto our price the town still didn't sign the spec. After a couple more months we finally got the go ahead and the town took the 10% hit.

    I do think roll over protection is VITAL! Anything we can do to make these trucks safer we will spend the money. With the new electronics in the truck we can also tell whose wearing a seatbelt and who isn't. Even though we still turn and do a second check. Safety! Safety! Safety!
    Stay safe!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Isn't Pierce the only builder that offers roll protection bags?
    Negative, It is offered by others as well...we considered it in both our engine and truck....but the more we thought about it, we didn't feel we needed them....and if we did feel truly felt we needed them then in my opinion we have bigger problems and better have a serious sit down with our drivers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ambrose33 View Post
    Our town gave us some major issues with the purchase of our 2 new trucks. I come from a firehouse where we use pierce and hahns. Since Hahns are not available and we have had a great experience through our pierce dealer and the actual fire truck itself we decided once again to spec a pierce. After dealings with the town and other politics......3 years later the trucks are being finished and this Sunday we are leaving to go do the final inspection. As frustrating and angering it can be with politicians in your town you still have to keep your cool and stay professional. My chief never went in and started screaming and yelling or acting like a complete ***. We took our hits but we kept going. Even when Pierce made us aware that their cost is going to go and it would add an extra i think 10% onto our price the town still didn't sign the spec. After a couple more months we finally got the go ahead and the town took the 10% hit.

    I do think roll over protection is VITAL! Anything we can do to make these trucks safer we will spend the money. With the new electronics in the truck we can also tell whose wearing a seatbelt and who isn't. Even though we still turn and do a second check. Safety! Safety! Safety!
    So you don't even consider any other manufacturers? Do you have to go out to bid on your trucks or are they outright purchased?
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Ambrose33 View Post
    Our town gave us some major issues with the purchase of our 2 new trucks. I come from a firehouse where we use pierce and hahns. Since Hahns are not available and we have had a great experience through our pierce dealer and the actual fire truck itself we decided once again to spec a pierce.Why not write a generic spec???? After dealings with the town and other politics......3 years later the trucks are being finished and this Sunday we are leaving to go do the final inspection. As frustrating and angering it can be with politicians in your town you still have to keep your cool and stay professional.Why? Just because they want to do what is financially responsible in the name of the constituents? My chief never went in and started screaming and yelling or acting like a complete ***. We took our hits but we kept going. Even when Pierce made us aware that their cost is going to go and it would add an extra i think 10% onto our price the town still didn't sign the spec. After a couple more months we finally got the go ahead and the town took the 10% hit. Once again, with a generic spec, you could have had trucks that met or exceeded your bid requirements.

    I do think roll over protection is VITAL! Anything we can do to make these trucks safer we will spend the money. With the new electronics in the truck we can also tell whose wearing a seatbelt and who isn't. Even though we still turn and do a second check. Safety! Safety! Safety!
    Note of advice- It's usually not a good idea to come into an open forum and brag that you wrote your specs around one particular manufacturer, especially when the State that you are from recently issued a report on this very subject (that also specifically mentioned the very manufacturer that you mentioned by name in their report!!!!!)
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    So you don't even consider any other manufacturers? Do you have to go out to bid on your trucks or are they outright purchased?
    We did look at other companies and speak to other departments in our area. We have seagraves, e-ones, american la frances, sutphen etc in our area. Through several discussion, feedback from the communities, speaking to sales men, checking into the companies financial state etc we were still determined to stay with what we use. I'm not gonna mention manufacturers but a couple towns were having major issues with some of the other brand trucks and gave very poor feeback. The trucks were sent out to bid and I think 2 other manfacturers tried but weren't able to meet the criteria.

    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Note of advice- It's usually not a good idea to come into an open forum and brag that you wrote your specs around one particular manufacturer, especially when the State that you are from recently issued a report on this very subject (that also specifically mentioned the very manufacturer that you mentioned by name in their report!!!!!)
    I never bragged about writing spec specifically swaying another manfacturers. I dont see the problem with purchasing the same company to keep the fleet the same and if you have had great success with the company. Yes I did read that article. Its like purchasing a car. If you like ford your 99% gonna stay with a ford. Would you wanna end up getting a truck from a company that recently went chapter 11 and has switched owners multiple times and can't even build the truck that were already on order? Look at Newark fire in Jersey they were screwed by that certain manufacturer and a couple more in close proximaty to my town.
    Stay safe!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ambrose33 View Post
    Our town gave us some major issues with the purchase of our 2 new trucks. I come from a firehouse where we use pierce and hahns. Since Hahns are not available and we have had a great experience through our pierce dealer and the actual fire truck itself we decided once again to spec a pierce. Even when Pierce made us aware that their cost is going to go and it would add an extra i think 10% onto our price the town still didn't sign the spec. After a couple more months we finally got the go ahead and the town took the 10% hit.
    Sounds like you stating you wrote a pierce spec and it didn't really matter what the cost was
    to the taxpayers thats what you were getting.

    Oh and watch out for that special kool aid at the steakhouse the night before you do your final inspection, it's been known to cause blurry vision and blindness the next day.
    Last edited by islandfire03; 01-16-2010 at 08:05 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Isn't Pierce the only builder that offers roll protection bags?
    I believe Spartan and KME does as well. I think that Pierce is the only ones with frontal air bags.
    Last edited by rm1524; 01-16-2010 at 10:04 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ambrose33 View Post
    The trucks were sent out to bid and I think 2 other manfacturers tried but weren't able to meet the criteria.
    Why do you think that is? Its because you sent them a Pierce spec. I would hope that Pierce would be low bid with their own spec.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ambrose33 View Post
    We did look at other companies and speak to other departments in our area. We have seagraves, e-ones, american la frances, sutphen etc in our area. Through several discussion, feedback from the communities, speaking to sales men, checking into the companies financial state etc we were still determined to stay with what we use. I'm not gonna mention manufacturers but a couple towns were having major issues with some of the other brand trucks and gave very poor feeback. The trucks were sent out to bid and I think 2 other manfacturers tried but weren't able to meet the criteria.
    Did you ever stop to wonder why the two other manufacturers were unable to meet the criteria? If you haven't figured it out, you wrote your specs so tightly around Pierce that no one but Pierce could bid without taking exceptions. No manufacturer does everything the same as the other so some manufacturers are going to have to take exceptions. More than likely, the Pierce dealer noticed that your department was not wise enough to recognize this and tacked an extra 25-30K on the truck knowing full well that you were going to buy the truck from them. I agree with Buff, I'd be very careful what you say on here. The report done by the state was very critical of these kind of practices. And while were on the subject of their financial situation, you obviously didn't do your homework there either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    Sounds like you stating you wrote a pierce spec and it didn't really matter what the cost was
    to the taxpayers thats what you were getting.

    Oh and watch out for that special kool aid at the steakhouse the night before you do your final inspection, it's been known to cause blurry vision and blindness the next day.
    I'm not getting into a war over this. But we did check out other companies and multiple towns had major issues with other manufacturers in our surrounding communities. I'm not stating the names of manufacturer's but if you PM me I'll tell you the issues and our concerns of each. The town did give us a budget before the build began and we kept it to that. I think the taxpayers would rather have a truck that has been good to us and I know will do the job correctly.
    Stay safe!

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    Don't you think it would still be better to write an open spec that other manufacturers can bid on if nothing more than to keep Pierce honest on their bid price. Of course, you would have to JUSTIFY why you are going with Pierce if they aren't the low bidder. If you only have one bidder, it is highly likely that they will pad their bid and you will end up paying more than you should.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rm1524 View Post
    Why do you think that is? Its because you sent them a Pierce spec. I would hope that Pierce would be low bid with their own spec.
    Quote Originally Posted by LT2410 View Post
    Did you ever stop to wonder why the two other manufacturers were unable to meet the criteria? If you haven't figured it out, you wrote your specs so tightly around Pierce that no one but Pierce could bid without taking exceptions. No manufacturer does everything the same as the other so some manufacturers are going to have to take exceptions. More than likely, the Pierce dealer noticed that your department was not wise enough to recognize this and tacked an extra 25-30K on the truck knowing full well that you were going to buy the truck from them. I agree with Buff, I'd be very careful what you say on here. The report done by the state was very critical of these kind of practices. And while were on the subject of their financial situation, you obviously didn't do your homework there either.
    If I knew this was such a sore subject for some I would have never posted about this. I came into the build late so I only know some of what on at the early stages. I know there were other meetings with 2 other manufacturers very early in the build. But lets not make this a personal vendetta.
    Stay safe!

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