The Coast News Group

Ambulance purchase ruffles feathers of competitor

VISTA — City Council voted unanimously to approve the purchase of two ambulances for the city fire department Dec. 9, but not before hearing a strong protest from the representative of a rejected supplier. The two vehicles in question were provided by Emergency Vehicle Group, Inc. based in Orange County. Their joint price tag came to $303,838.26.
Dick Reynolds of Braun Northwest asserted that the city and fire department had consistently expressed their intent to buy the vehicles from his company.
“We never at any time were led to believe there was a concern with us as your source supplier until your 11th-hour decision,” Reynolds said. He added that the quoted prices and ambulance specifications used by the city’s ambulance selection committee were incorrect.
“I think what we have here is a case of sour grapes and a lack of communication between the sales rep and the factory,” countered fire Chief Gary Fisher. “He’s known since September that we were probably going to go with another manufacturer.”
Fisher pointed out that the specifications and prices came from Reynolds and the company’s Web site. Based on that information and extensive testing of the vehicles, the committee had determined that the Emergency Vehicle ambulances offered more features and were cheaper.
While it was true, Fisher said, that Braun Northwest was one of the final contenders and that Vista had reserved a spot in their production cycle should the committee decide to purchase from them, at no time had purchase been guaranteed.
“Bottom line: are you getting a better deal and a better product?” Councilman Frank Lopez asked of Chief Jeff Hahn who supervised the process.
“We believe so,” Hahn replied.