Bidding procedures still under scrutinty, BOS weighs in
WOODBRIDGE - Questions about the bidding procedures of the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Association were raised at the Jan 10 BOS meeting. Matt Giglietti and George Giering, both members of the BOF, voiced their concerns to the BOS. These two individuals had raised the same concerns earlier at the Dec 19, 2006 BOF meeting.
The bidding controversy involves the process the WVFA used to prepare the bid specs for a new rescue truck. Bob Sorenson, a fire commissioner, brought his concerns of bidding irregularities to the attention of Giglietti and Giering.
According to Sean Rowland, however, the assistant fire chief of the WVFA, the bid was prepared in the standard way. He explained that the process entails months of careful planning, including meeting with different vendors to discuss and test specific apparatus. Rowland said, "We use the same process for all the trucks. There's nothing different."
To structure the bid, the committee begins with a template of a particular truck and then cuts and pastes additional equipment.
For the rescue truck, the WVFA started with the template supplied by E-One, the largest fire truck manufacturer in the world. Fire Chief Andrew Esposito said, "There are 700 items on that truck. You've got to start with something. There are so many parts you can't think of everything."
A truck committee, composed of individuals with appropriate expertise, modifies that template by amending the various specs with equipment from other vendors.
The final bid specs are then approved by town officials, including the town attorney, and it is sent out as a request for proposal. According to Giering and Giglietti, the bid developed by the WVFA for the new rescue truck was identical to the truck specifications of a particular vehicle, the E-One rescue truck. Giering told the BOS, "When you look at the specifications for an E-One rescue truck and you look at what was sent out by the town.it's exactly the same thing."
Giglietti said, "It raises a question in your mind. Is that normal?" Giering added, "I'm convinced now more than ever that the bidding process was flawed." Chris Dickerson, a member of the BOS, took up the banner.
He had read most of the various documents and found them disturbing. He said, "This was written for one truck it is literally a Xerox copy."
Dickerson also stated, "I don't feel that that follows the spirit and the intent of a proper bid process. I believe the bid should be written as generically as possible … so that anyone can bid on it."
Jim Kaoud, a WVFA member and a member of the truck committee, disputed these comments. He stated adamantly that the truck committee did indeed generate the bid specs. Kaoud said, "We (the WVFA truck committee) made these specs. We had all the input."
Kaoud also maintained that truck specifications for other truck vendors were used, as well as those for E-One.
Referring to another major vendor, the Pierce Manufacturing company, Kaoud said, "The bid had about 20-30 percent Pierce specs."
Kaoud also pointed out that the response received from E-One had a number of exceptions spelled out by the company. He added, "Every vendor was able to bid on these specs. There was nothing proprietary."
Rowland said, "All the equipment that's on that spec-anyone can bid on it."
To underline that point, Fire Chief Andrew Esposito said that the town had received five responses to the bid, which was the best response rate in 10 years.
Giglietti expressed dissatisfaction with the bid responses. He said, "It bothers me that certain companies didn't bid on this. As far as I'm concerned, we got one viable bid."
In response to the questions raised, the BOS moved to schedule an informational session on the bidding process. Sandra Stein, a member of the BOS, said, "I think we need to sit down and have you (the WVFA) walk us through how you built the bid specs."
With that in mind, the BOS scheduled a joint meeting with the BOS, the BOF and the WVFA for Jan 24 to review the rescue truck bid. Dickerson was satisfied with that decision. He said, "I feel this is the right truck; I don't feel this was done the right way."