By Mark Waite
TONOPAH — Nye County Emergency Services Director Brent Jones wants to trade out a fire truck for two ambulances to serve northern Nye County, as well as assist Esmeralda and Lander counties, but he will have to wait a while.
The need is much greater for an ambulance to serve the Tonopah area, he said.
“Currently, we have three vehicles down due to mechanical failures, leaving us with one as a spare,” Jones told Nye County commissioners during their March 6 meeting about the ambulances.
Patty Winters, with Nye County Emergency Services, said the last purchase of vehicles was in 2006. The ambulances range in age from six to 17 years old.
The county maintains 13 ambulances; nine are permitted and in active use, Winters said. Two ambulances each are assigned to Amargosa Valley, Beatty, Smoky Valley and Tonopah. One ambulance assigned to Gabbs is in the shop, but there is a spare ambulance. A 1995 ambulance is waiting to go into the shop due to a front end problem, while a training vehicle needs new batteries.
“In the last 12 months, we have had many mechanical failures and have had to utilize the training ambulance as an active ambulance. In October/November of 2010 we had so many mechanical failures that for a 48 hour period Smoky Valley had been left with only one vehicle,” Winters wrote in a Feb. 23 memo to Jones.
But Nye County only received one bid from Fire Trucks Plus Inc. of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Under the deal, Nye County would receive $120,000 as a trade-in allowance for a fire pumper truck Jones said was valued at $130,000.
In return the county will get two ambulances for $120,000; one of them has a brand new 2012 cab and chassis, the other has a chassis approved by the Nye County lead mechanic, he said. A brand new ambulance would cost $120,000, Jones said.
The fire truck was described as one that was taken out of service. Jones said the Tonopah Fire Department responds to about 15 fire incidents per year.
“We’re dealing with a company we purchased five vehicles from. We’re very excited about them getting this,” Jones said.
Bids were advertised on the Nye County website, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Pahrump Valley Times and the Tonopah Times-Bonanza and Goldfield News.
Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi didn’t think that was enough.
“We’re putting bids out on this type of equipment and it’s my understanding we are not using specialty type of brokers or things of that nature. So I really have questions as to whether or not we got this notice out to the right people to be able to make a bid. I also understand we actually drove this truck, tanker, to the person in Rancho Cucamonga to have them look at it. I don’t think that happened with anybody else,” Kunzi said.
Commissioner Joni Eastley had problems with the county trading in a vehicle for less than the appraised value.
Kunzi asked why the county doesn’t just sell the pumper truck for $130,000 and buy whatever equipment is needed.
The commission voted 3-0 to reject the bid.
Jones was also denied a request to trade in a 1994 Freightliner Type I structure fire engine for $20,000 and pay the $34,827 balance for the cost of a 2012 Dodge Ram 3500 four-by-four, crew cab, pickup truck from Fire Trucks Plus Inc. of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Kunzi told Jones this bid had the same problems as the ambulance bid.
Jones said the pickup will replace an animal control vehicle driven since Karl Mitchell ran the program in 2001. But Jones admitted, under questioning from Eastley, the new vehicle will be for his use.
“My current response vehicle has 70,000 miles on it. We have a Karl Mitchell-era standby truck. We would be replacing that truck with this truck so we have a good animal control vehicle because our animal control fleet is getting aged and then the new response truck, which would have some animal control response capabilities on it and then fuel storage, would be in emergency services with myself,” Jones said.