Joe Hester, President of the Glendale Fire Fighters Union, offered commentary in the local media about Glendale’s recent attempt to purchase a fire truck. Here is the link: .The City Manager pulled the item from that night’s council meeting and it seems that she has directed that a new RFP be issued for said truck.

It’s what happened after the council meeting, out in the lobby, that has everyone scratching their heads and muttering, oh no. There was a war of words. Fire Chief Mark Burdick uncorked on the two gentlemen from Freightliner who had spoken during the Public Comment period about the flaws in the procurement process for the truck. Several people who witnessed the confrontation allege that Burdick used profanity and threatened never to consider or use a Freightliner fire truck. Apparently a security guard asked Burdick to take it outside of the building.

Since Burdick has been silent Hester has come to his defense. He makes reference to two components of the truck – the extruded body cab and the brake system. None of us can possibly know about these items. It has turned into a “he said vs. he said” contest about who is right.

Far more to the point are Hester’s assertions that there was “a competitive evaluation process” and “I believe transparency here is a must.” Apparently transparency and competition were absent. Hence the allegations of a flawed process by Freightliner. Rather than proving that the bid process was without question Hester’s best defense was a two-fold offense: to call into question Councilmember Hugh’s relationship with Freightliner personnel; and to claim that the Freightliner fire truck is somehow unsafe.  People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Shouldn’t there have been some sort of disclosure that some fire fighters involved in the process had previous ownership interests or worked for their chosen bidder, E-One? No wonder that E-One has been the successful bidder repeatedly.

What should be of even more concern is Hester’s statement that, “Glendale is the state’s busiest fire department per capita – facing more than 35,000 calls a year.” It is an accurate statement but begs the question, Why? Other cities in the Valley with comparable populations generally experienced an average of 10,000 less annual calls for service. Could it be because Glendale, under the Automatic Aid agreement, answers more calls outside its city than any other city? The public has been fully informed on the benefits of Automatic Aid and should be just as informed about its demands. What was it that Hester said about transparency? Shouldn’t there be some transparency to explain why Glendale’s calls for service are so inordinately high?

© Joyce Clark, 2014


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