Vehicle Research

New Jersey Report Finds Problems With Fire Truck Purchases

October 01, 2008

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (SCI) is sounding an alarm over the way fire trucks are purchased in the state. A commission report recently found a lack of “proper accountability and transparency” in the process, according to

“In many instances, the competitive procurement process required by law has been reduced to a sham in which the public’s business is ruled by private interests,” the commission said in the report.

One of the biggest problems, according to the SCI, is that local officials often use design specifications passed on directly from their dealers’ sales personnel. Such a move ensures that only a specific manufacturer will be best able to meet the specifications, hindering any real bidding process for fire truck contracts.

The commission also found cases in which fire officials — doubling as truck sales personnel — sold trucks to their own volunteer fire companies, making commissions off the sales. The commission called for the state Community Affairs Department to involve itself directly fire truck purchases. The commission also said truck design specifications should be written by the state, not manufacturers.

Fire department personnel who also sell fire equipment should have to register with the state, and be subject to ethics requirements.

Department of Community Affairs spokesman Chris Donnelly said the department appreciated the information in the report, and shared the SCI’s concerns. He said state agencies would start to work to deal with the issues presented in the report, according to

Assemblyman Fred Scalera, who is also the fire chief in Nutley, acknowledged there needs to be more state oversight, but also said the state needs to make sure it’s not preventing towns from getting specific equipment that meets their own needs.


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