Truro trustees steamed about delay of fire trucks delivery

The delivery of a new fire truck for Truro Township hasn’t exactly proceeded with blazing speed, making trustees hot under the collar.

On Aug. 1, Bill Vogelpohl, an American LaFrance sales representative from Kentucky, apologized to township trustees and firefighters for the delay, citing the change in manufacturing sites and a new computer system.

"Two months ago we were supposed to have an up and running system," said Vogelpohl, "and we’re not even there yet. Your truck, needless to say, is not the only one going through this. American LaFrance vacated the building and then built a new one."

The American LaFrance vehicle was ordered on April 26, 2006, and, according to the contract, the company had between 300 and 330 days to manufacture, customize, and ship the engine from a plant in Ladson, S.C.

The parts are ready and waiting to be assembled, he explained.

"The body (engine) is built. The cab and chassis is built. I would say you’re probably looking at September," Vogelpohl explained. " If I could go down and build the trucks, I certainly would because it would save me a lot of grief. They had a good plan to make the transition, but something went awry."

Vogelpohl said a conference with company executives is scheduled for Aug. 3 and he should have more information regarding the status of the township’s order by the following Monday.

Prior to his unexpected presentation, trustees and firefighters discussed the possibility of canceling the order because of the delays.

Following the sales representative’s comments, Chairman Pat Mahaffey expressed additional concerns regarding potential quality issues with the engine because of problems encountered by American LaFrance.

"At the time we researched it and put in an order, we thought it (manufacturer) was good," commented Mahaffey. "I’m concerned about the truck itself. Maybe problems with the company started two years ago when they changed management. We’ll wait and see what they have to say on Monday."

Trustee Barb Strussion added, "We’ll wait for the tar and feathers until Monday."

Even though trustees discussed canceling the order, Captain Steve Hein said there is a clause in the contract that the company is entitled to recover their costs.

Fire Chief Jerry Foltz echoed Mahaffey’s concerns and reported the Detroit Fire Department does not accept bids from American LaFrance.

"We could have a brand new fire truck within a week," stated Foltz, who said demonstrators are available for purchase, although they might not have the same specifications as the engine on order.

The American LaFrance representative was in town to deliver a loaner engine while insurance investigations are completed and claims settled on an engine which caught fire on July 7 while idling in the parking lot of a local hardware. It was manufactured by a different company and was the fire department’s newest engine, built in 2002.

American LaFrance, now owned by a private investment company, was purchased from Daimler/Chrysler’s Freightliner LLC in December, 2005. It is the nation’s oldest manufacturer of fire, rescue, and emergency medical apparatus and celebrates its 175 anniversary this year.

In August of last year, it was announced the company was building a new headquarters and assembly plant. Operations began three weeks ago.

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