The cost of Plympton-Wyoming’s fire trucks have gone up.
Council has approved a contract to buy two custom made pumpers from ResQtech Systems Inc. for $1,603,500. That’s an 18.7 per cent increase from the $1,350,000 approved to spend just two months ago.
The township started looking for two new pumpers in late 2019. One was planned for the Camlachie station to replace an aging vehicle. The other was needed after an accident near Reece’s Corners in September. The pumper tipped into a creek after an unstable bank gave way as the crew tried to make its way to a stolen pickup on fire in a cornfield.
In January, Fire Chief Steve Clemens came to council with two bids for the fire trucks, one from Dependable Emergency Vehicles in Brampton and one from ResQtech Systems which sells Rosenbauer America trucks from its Woodstock location.
In February, Fire Chief Steve Clemens brought a report to council saying Dependable’s submission package met the minimum standards to be opened and recorded.
But Clemens tells The Independent the submission price was not based on the specifications listed in the request for proposal for the design and performance of the Custom Pumpers.
The report doesn’t say what Dependable’s price was however Clemens provided The Independent with the tender opening report showing the company’s proposal – which didn’t meet the specs – was for $1,042,086.
ResQTech’s bid was $1,549,000.
Council asked the chief to go back to ResQTech and negotiate an agreement for not more than $1,350,000. April 29, Clemens came back to council with a new proposal with a price tag of $1,603,500 – 18.7 per cent higher than ResQTech’s original bid.
“A purchase agreement had not been fully negotiated prior to the onset of COVID-19.”
Clemens’ report goes on to say the exchange rate increased dramatically in that time frame because of the economic uncertainty.
From February to April, the Canadian Dollar sunk from 0.72 cents on the US dollar to about 0.61 cents on the US dollar – that’s a 14 per cent increase. That means about $218,409 of the increase could be attributed to the increasing exchange rate.
“Due to the increased cost due to the US dollar exchange rate a purchase agreement for the fire department’s pumper requirements/needs within the council approved amount is not possible without major changes to the specifications like the consideration of commercial chassis versus the current custom chassis,” Clemens says in the report.
He also indicated some items had been removed from the pumpers as he negotiated the new price, however they were not listed.
Councillors had some questions about the deal.
“It’s a significant increase of $280,000,” says Councillor Bob Woolvett who is the chair of the fire board.
He was quoting a figure from the fire chief’s report which placed the increase at $280,760.
“I get it is the difference in the dollar but I don’t think it is a $280,000 difference in the US dollar. I’m not a mathematician,” says Woolvett.
The original cost of the trucks – S1,549,000 – went up $35,091 on top of the exchange rates.
Woolvett added he wondered if there had been items added to the trucks instead of removed.
“I don’t have anything else to say about it because I don’t have the specifics.”
Councillor Netty McEwen also voiced concern.
“We’re not talking about 25 cents, we’re talking about a significant amount of money and I wonder if this motion is premature and we should be looking at it.”
“This includes everything that the firefighters wanted,” says Clemens.
“This is least amount of money being spent on US tax dollar exchange,” he said adding the deal included less than 50 per cent of the US exchange rate.
“Rather than rather bringing it down, we’re back to what we started with,” said CAO Carolyn Tripp. “They’re holding their price, not paying the exchange rate as well as not getting everything we wanted.”
Tripp said the purchase agreement could go back to the fire board but “any additional delays or changes could end us costing us more.”
Mayor Lonny Napper added the company had promised the cost of the trucks would not go any further.
The additional cost of the two trucks will go into the fire budget in 2021.
The trucks will be custom built and brought to the town in 395 days.
The tender documents call for a one year time frame.
Council agreed to the move with Councillor Gary Atkinson casting his yes vote saying “as long as we don’t buy any more fire trucks in the next 10 years…I don’t want to hear anymore about fire trucks.”