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  1. #1
    jerseyfire
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down A question of ethics

    Iím sure somebody will claim Iím posting this just because I sell a camera, but give me a chance to ask a question as a firefighter.

    Does anybody think it is ok for a sales rep to bid on a camera contract with a camera that hasnít been manufactured yet?

    All names have been deleted to protect the innocent, but this is wrong. The fire market is very competitive but there is plenty of business out there for everyone. I sell a thermal imaging cameras in New Jersey where they give away brand ďXĒ, but some customers are still buying mine. So why would a company try to sell a camera that they havenít even manufactured yet? Should limited fire department budgets be wasted on equipment that doesnít exist? Are sales people so greedy for market share and commissions that they would pull such a stunt?

    Competition is the American way and it forces companies to develop better products at lower prices, but putting something on the market before itís ready is just wrong! When it comes to firefighting, itís dangerous!

    Firefighters - Do your homework and make sure what you buy isnít a sales pitch, but the best equipment you can afford and the one most suited to your particular needs. That goes for thermal imaging cameras, apparatus and anything else we use to "Protect Lives and Property"

    Manufacturers Ė If your new product is so good firefighters will buy it. If your new product isnít ready for practical use, then work out the kinks and donít waste everybodyís time with excuses and half truths.

    As an equipment provider Iím bothered by the questionable ethics of this whole thing. As a firefighter Iím offended and disgusted by anyone taking advantage of the fire service.

    Train Hard, Train Often
    Rob


    ------------------
    Rob Donnan
    Captain, Metuchen FD
    President, Jersey Fire & Rescue


  2. #2
    FF.FOREVER
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    To answer the question I will say yes. I also find it quite humoring to watch all you sales reps bicker back and forth. Instead of writing about new stuff that coming into the market just let of firefighters pick and choose. I read this site every day. I also keep up on the new technology that comes into the thermal market. I believe that all the cameras have their good and bad points. For instance the ISG: long wait for delivery. The Bullard: have to turn the knob if the picture starts to white out. So on and so forth. I believe that the fire dept's are going to purchase a piece of equipment that is going to suit their need. I myself like the hands-free cameras, but others do not and I can live with that. So to all you sales reps just calm down and just give the fact and not what's coming in the future until you have the specs in your hands!

  3. #3
    S. Cook
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I agree, absolutely YES.

    This is only WRONG to someone who lost the bid.

    The government does it, they do it when we spec an apparatus (here's what we heard on our aerial "nobody's ever built one like that before"). A few months ago our county spec'd new pumper/tankers and one of the largest apparatus makers in the nation bid a chassis that wasn't on the market yet.

    Like you said, competition is the American way - it forces companies to develop better products - you said it yourself.

    If you think up a better product, need some funds for development, then by all means, sell the product in advance to get the funds. I wouldn't have a problem with it until delivery date and I don't have what you sold me.

    The new volkswagons were sold out before they ever hit the street.

    Reaserch companies do it all the time.

    Uncle Sam does this all the time.

    If a mfg/seller has a better product at a reasonable price , they've got nothing to worry about if buyer doesn't have to take low bid.

  4. #4
    jerseyfire
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I guess no matter how many years Iíve dedicated to the fire service I will from this point on be labeled as a salesman, and not a firefighter.

    Just to clarify, no bid was lost and the issue is of ethics and not personal gain. There was no advertisement made for the camera I sell and I didnít name the camera manufacturer Iím talking about. No body is being called out and Iím not interested in making this an issue of brand ďXĒ vs. brand ďYĒ. This is about proving that something works before itís sold to the fire service.

    If statements like ďdonít worry about that problem, this is only a prototype and the production models will work betterĒ or ďthis unit doesnít have that option, but the new one willĒ are ok with everyone, then I guess Iím wrong.

    Itís funny that reading back over earlier posts everyone says to do a live burn demo. Make sure it does everything the sales rep says. Make sure delivery and service are what was promised. Make sure itís suited to your particular needs. I thought that was good advice, maybe Iím wrong again.

    Iím developing a helmet mounted light weight device which incorporates Thermal Imaging, a PASS device with GPS capability and satellite communications. If this sounds good to you Iím pre selling them to help with the development cost? Iím sure there are many volunteer fire departments who run bingo every Thursday night to raise money for equipment looking to invest.

    Iím not talking about Uncle Sam dumping millions on devices that never make it to production and Iím not talking about a car manufacturer thatís been in the business since the forties. This is about equipment used by firefighters in the most abusive environment on earth. The inside of burning buildings. My department is small and our budget limited. We can not afford to be someone elseís test dummies AGAIN! I say again because we were treated to one of the first 106í aerial platforms manufactured by a Canadian company back in the 80ís. It sucks and is out of service as often as itís in. Low bid and the promise superior performance really screwed us! How many of you can afford the same?

    If people canít get past the fact that Iím a firefighter and a sales person then thatís their problem. If they are willing to buy something based on a prototype that isnít fully functional thatís their call too. Nothing has changed, itís still good advice to research anything you are thinking of buying and make sure itís a peach and not a lemon.

    Train Hard, Train Often!
    Rob


    ------------------
    Rob Donnan
    Captain, Metuchen FD
    President, Jersey Fire & Rescue

  5. #5
    IRalltheway
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    I agree with jerseyfire, all this type of stuff does is delay the process for us to get the TICs in our hand. When the bid hits the street and the delivery is not met by the prototype camera manufacturer then we have to go out for another bid.

    S. Cook-I find it interesting that you yourself have said several times to evaluate all TICs and use them in real applications before you buy, so are you saying that you would buy a prototype camera before it was released? If so, have you mailed your PO to Bullard for a MX?

    IRalltheway

  6. #6
    TIMan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hello All,

    I have to respond to this one because of a number of recent events related to this subject.

    First, we all have agreed that no one should buy a TI without evaluating it first, period! However we all know this is not always what is happening in the real world. TIs are being bought without review because of business relationships, recommendations from other users, and sales pitches and dollar signs. In many cases the buyer may end up with a good unit in other cases they will get burned with a piece of junk. Bottom line if you buy the unit without evaluating it and you get a piece of junk you have no one to blame but yourself. Yes, no TI manufacturer should be selling anything other than a quality piece of equipment, but once again we know what goes on in the real world.

    As far as bidding with a unit that is not in production I do not think it is good idea.
    Obviously the department can not evaluate the unit.
    The delay in getting the unit can be very lengthy, TIs need to go into service ASAP, not months after the funds are available.

    However there are a number of things going on right now that are causing these units to be presented for a bid anyway.

    Bullard has been contacted by a number of departments and asked to provide a bid based on the MX. Even though some of them have never evaluated the unit or were never promised a specific delivery date, they requested the bid anyway. Once again they contacted Bullard and asked for the bid, Bullard did not just turn in a bid on their own hoping it would be accepted even though the unit was not in production yet.

    Some departments have also made it clear they want a microbolometer based unit. They have not specified which unit but it must be microbolometer based. When contacted and advised of the situation (BST is available, Microbolometer is 1-2 months out) the response was bid the microbolometer. Once again the department requested a bid based on a unit not currently in production.

    There is no business that is going to tell a customer ďNOĒ, especially if they believe they are 1-2months away from delivering a new product.

    Good, bad, or indifferent it is going on, and we all know Bullard is not the only company doing it.

    ISG showed, advertised, and promised a helmet mounted unit for over 6 months. Of course the unit never made it to market. Unfortunately there were departments who waited over 6 months for the unit and never got anything. Way too much valuable time wasted. However, you can blame the departments, just as much as ISG.

    There are a number of good units currently available today. There is absolutely no reason any department should not buy one of these existing production units and put it into service immediately. The newer units (available or prototype) contrary to popular belief are not light years ahead of the current units like many people would like you to believe. There is no question the day of a much better thermal imager is in the near future. However, your talking years before the real big changes are going occur, and no one should be gambling that the unit coming out in 6 months is going to be worth the time wasted waiting for it.
    The changes in technology are going to keep coming, so just like a computer the day after you buy it, it will be outdated. However just like the computer you bought a year ago, the units available today are going to do the job you purchased them for, saving lives. I know there are at least 100 lives that are here today because of the current units. I do not know of one life that was lost because the unit being used was BST and not Microbolometer.

    Bullard could not have bid the MX if we wanted to in NJ because of the bid spec. You write the bid specs, so you control the unit you will purchase. If you do not want to gamble, and you should not (my opinion), get what exists and what has worked because they are saving lives everyday.

    Good Luck, Be Safe,
    "TIman"

    Bullard
    TI Training Specialist




    [This message has been edited by TIMan (edited May 23, 2000).]

  7. #7
    S. Cook
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    "I find it interesting that you yourself have said several times to evaluate all TICs and use them in real applications before you buy, so are you saying that you would buy a prototype camera before it was released?"

    No and, if you knew me, it wouldn't be interesting. 3 part answer follows...

    Part 1.

    If I'm willing to shell out X amount of dollars for something, I should have made the decision before hand that nothing on the market meets my needs or expectations. And I would still require an evaluation period.

    jersyfire didn't give us a lot of details, but - most of the imagers are all based on the same or similar optics and components. The major difference is in the housing of these: e.g. the various handheld and hemlet mount designs.

    Let's take a sample imager - if the only one(s) on the market required either one of the following:

    - vision in both eyes

    - vision in the right eye

    I can't use it - I don't have a right eye.

    If a reputable and reliable mfg came to me and said don't sweat it, he'd build me one using the same components, but that I could hold in my hand and see a big wide screeen, but it's going to cost X amount and take X amount of time for delivery. And if I felt that both were reasonable, I'd pay it and wait.

    Part 2.

    I wouldn't be stupid enough not to get a money back guarantee on a deal like this (or a cut of all future profits since I financed a portion of the development for that matter). If it didn't work like I specified it to work (yes, I would still do the live burn evals and such), the manufacturer would have a $15,000 paper weight.

    Epilogue.

    I support a person or company that wants to do this - but it goes without saying (at least it does in Texas) "buyer be aware" (it's "buyer beware" somewhere else).

    And no on the PO for the MX.

    Still using the 3 relaible BST based imagers we have, chopper wheel knob and all. In fact, had two of them in a house fire last night and they worked great. Did a quick search (cats were found unharmed) and we had the view needed to stop a detached garage fire that extended into the exposure house attic before it extended into the rest of the house. And you know that darn chopper knob was never turned once.

    Ya'll be safe!

    Scott

  8. #8
    no_name_FF
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I don't have a problem with manufacturers bidding a proto-type IF....

    1) They tell you it is prototype and not in production or service. (When my no_name company was looking at TIC's, one rep made it seem like hundreds of his 180 degree swivel units were in operation, when in fact none were, the first unit had not come off the production line).

    2) An expected delivery time is provided and adhered to. Also, a reputable dealer would not require a deposit on a prototype until delivery was 30-60 days out....

    3) FD has ability to cancel if production schedule not met.

    my $.02

    ------------------
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

  9. #9
    jerseyfire
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I also wouldnít have a problem if they gave a BIG discount on a first production run unit. This could serve as a field test and as long as the fire dept. knew that was the situation, I see no problem. In fact I think thatís a good idea. I wouldnít mind working with a manufacturer on a project to help develop new technology, but there has to be back end benefits to such an arrangement, ie. a free device, coverage in a national publication or discounts on finished products once they are being manufactured.

    The whole point of this post in the first place was to question the ethics of sales people selling something that hasnít been built and quite frankly doesnít workÖyet. It wasnít intended to address the issue of fire fighters working with manufacturers on a project.

    I wasnít looking to stir s@#t, just to make people aware of what is going on out there.

    Train Hard, Train Often!

    Rob


    ------------------
    Rob Donnan
    Captain, Metuchen FD
    President, Jersey Fire & Rescue

  10. #10
    jerseyfire
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hey no_name, you mentioned something about a deposit shouldn't be required until the unit was almost ready. Did someone actualy make you put a deposit on the TI you bought? I mean if you were actualy associated with some no_name f.d.

    This will definatly sound like a sales pitch, but we deliver our camera within an average of 7 to 10 days from confirmation of purchase, depending on what options are being included. The paperwork and payment is handled later.

    I didn't realize deposits were being required by other companies.

    Rob

    President, Jersey Fire & Rescue
    & NJ Distributor for the ICC FireOpTIC

    [This message has been edited by jerseyfire (edited May 24, 2000).]

  11. #11
    no_name_FF
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Jerseyfire:

    No, we got the free Bullard, however, in some circumstances, we are required to send deposit or PO (which ties up our funds until cancelled) before getting equipment (usually with unfamiliar vendors, smaller vendors or custom equip.)

    ------------------
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

  12. #12
    FireTIC
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    TiMan,
    Just to clarify a point made by you earlier in this post.

    You are correct in saying ISG has been promoting a hands-free camera for some time. However, they do not have a bid spec written or have they bid against the competition for hands-free cameras. If someone was waiting for the development of this particular camera, the time wasted was thiers.


    FRD


  13. #13
    TIMan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hello All,

    Not that it really makes a whole lot of difference, but to set the record straight.

    ISG did produce a product information sheet for the K-100 helmet mounted unit. I have one setting in front of me right now and it is identical to the sheet for the K-90 and says nothing about being a non-production prototype unit. These sheets were distributed by the thousands to numerous departments through trade shows and reps. I spoke to an ISG rep at FDIC 1999 (I was not working for Bullard yet) and was told the K-100 would be ready in a couple of months. I inquired again at IAFC show, 4 months later, and was told it would be any day and they would be ready to start shipping.

    I know of at least 1 instance where these sheets were used to construct a bid spec, with the assistance of an ISG rep. I know, because we got the business after the department waited about 3 months and got nothing but stories.

    I am not real sure how anyone could make the claim that a bid spec was never constructed, maybe the ISG office never constructed one, but I know that was not the case in the field.

    Anyway as I said and we all seem to agree, if you bid or buy based on a piece of paper, and nothing shows up or you get a piece of junk, it is on you.

    Good Luck, Be Safe,
    ďTImanĒ

    Bullard
    TI Training Specialist

    Hey FireTIC see that datasheet is still up on your web site, so is the K-100 a dead issue or not?

  14. #14
    FireTIC
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    TIMan,
    If you say a bid spec was written on the K-100 hands-free camera, then I stand corrected. I was told by ISG the camera would be ready shortly. I've been in this business a LONG time, and I will believe it when I see it.
    However, if I was the decision maker for a fire department, I would never build a bid spec on something I never saw. I also would not spec a camera that was'nt taken to the burn building. Cameras that look good in the fire house do not always perform in a live burn.

    The reality of thermal imaging cameras is much like the competition between car manufacturers. Some like Chevy and some like Ford, but you test drive the car first. A cameras looks are not as important as how it performs.

    FRD

  15. #15
    FireFLIRMgr
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Angry

    You have to be kidding me! A question of ethics? Lets get it straight who is supposed to do what.

    AS A MANUFACTURER, it is our jobs to design quality equipment and promote it to the best of our abilities. And yes that could mean bidding it before it is in production, provided we have the specs, and enough information to do so. You see, it is our responsibility to the customer, fire fighters, to educate you on what we currently have available, what is coming, what it will/won't do, and WHEN IT WILL BE AVAILABLE. It is also our responsibility to BE HONEST when we give this information. Hopefully, those that aren't honest won't be around for long.

    AS CUSTOMERS AND CONSUMERS, it is your job to decide what you want, and who you want to trust. YOU WRITE THE SPECS & SIGN THE CHECKS. There have been volumes of excellent advise given here on choosing a camera. If a proven track record is important to you, demand that. If you want to evaluate the product in a live burn situation, do that. If you trust the manufacturer or distributor, perhaps the potential rewards from a new product will be worth the risk; but the ultimate decision and responsibility resides with you, the customer.

    Dear jerseyfire, I agree that it is not ethical to claim your camera is in production if it is not, nor to lie about it's capabilities or availability date. But as long as a manufacturer tells the truth, there is absolutely nothing wrong with bidding a product that isn't in production. In my 15 years of experience with the fire service, I have found that they are better than average at weeding out the bull @#%*! They are also excellent communicators. If a manufacturer tells too many lies, the word tends to get around rapidly and the manufacturer feels it in the wallet.

    Perhaps what you really want to do here is simply warn fire fighters that there is some risk associated with buying an unproven camera.

    Greg Hall
    FireFLIR

  16. #16
    mongofire_99
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    BRAVO FireFLIRMgr.

    I am sooo tired of hearing salesmen crying the blues and making excuses when they don't get the sale.

    mongo

  17. #17
    jerseyfire
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    Itís a shame to have to repeat the same words again and again, but some members of these forums just donít get it. ďNO SALE WAS LOSTí but there was confusion concerning a camera bid which was placed for a TI which was not demonstrated, is not in production and which did not meet the spec. If a department wants to take a chance on new technology that should be a decision they make ahead of time and not one to be dropped in their laps when they open the bids.

    Greg (FireFLIRmgr) in a way you are right. My intention was to warn people. You know as well as I do that not everyone out there is the most well informed. Many people will just buy what ever their trusted sales rep puts in front of them because thatís what theyíve been doing for years. I did one demo against a sales rep who brought out the camera sold by his company because that was the name brand air packs he also sold. Turning on the power was about all he could figure out. I wonít even go into emisivity or BST vs. Microbolometer. No problem here right?

    Mongo: here are posts where I was discussing tactics and training. I didnít see you comment on any of them. If youíre so tired of hearing sales people crying the blues then maybe you should add something productive to the forums. By the way I am also a firefighter/EMT which you would know by reading my profile. Who are you? Your profile is a little vague.
    http://www.firehouse.com/interactive...ML/000086.html http://www.firehouse.com/interactive...ML/000070.html http://www.firehouse.com/interactive...ML/000062.html http://www.firehouse.com/interactive...ML/000055.html

    Maybe TIMAN was right in saying he would only comment on training from now on. The only problem with that is very few people seam to have anything to say on that subject and thatís a shame!

    Rob


    ------------------
    Rob Donnan
    Captain, Metuchen FD
    President, Jersey Fire & Rescue

    [This message has been edited by jerseyfire (edited June 01, 2000).]

    [This message has been edited by jerseyfire (edited June 01, 2000).]

  18. #18
    mongofire_99
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    If no sale was lost, then I stand corrected. Please accept my apology.

    In any case, FireFLIRMgr still has the right mindset as does TIMan - reps and salesmen only commenting on training. I don't have a problem if you clear up any misconceptions, false or misleading statements made by others regarding their specific product either.

    Speaking as a firefighter, it looks terrible for a rep to come on to these posts and gripe about something other manufacturers are doing. If these situations are truly of concern for the safety of the firefighter and not for the sale, the proper avenue would be for the rep with the gripe to file a notorized or otherwise sworn statement, with supporting documentation, with the bidder on why they should choose his over the other.

    As to why I do not have full disclosure on my ID, the department leadership does not want to be bothered with any complaints about the opinions of its personnel. From the way it sounds, it is a similar situation to what nj_lawyer had.

    However just so you know, I am a firefighter/EMT in Texas with over 10 years experience in a relatively busy fire department. For the last several years I have done the purchasing for the department.

    [This message has been edited by mongofire_99 (edited June 02, 2000).]

  19. #19
    no_name_FF
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Wink

    Shame about the problems nj_lawyer had and that he no longer posts here.....


    ------------------
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

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