Finance & Governance approves emergency vehicle purchases

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Fire Chief Alex Hamilton (photo courtesy of the City of Oxnard)

Oxnard — The Finance & Governance Committee on Tuesday, December 28, approved the purchase of eight Battalion Chief (BC) command vehicle chassis by the National Auto Fleet Group for the fire department.

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HE The approval moves the article to the full City Council and recommends Mayor John Zaragoza to fill the $419,674 purchase order for the vehicles.

Oxnard Fire Chief Alex Hamilton presented the article and said the city’s 2021-2022 budget process approved the purchase of the vehicles.

“Partly to replace two of the current frontline BC vehicles that are being promoted to the rank of assistant chief,” he said. “We will be replacing the fire service vehicle, the battalion commander’s vehicle and the training chief’s vehicle, in addition to replacing a battalion commander’s vehicle which was unfortunately decommissioned earlier this year after an accident. We are even expanding our fleet by three vehicles.”

He said due to a tight deadline the city was notified of, they were working within the city’s purchasing guidelines to get the mayor to sign the order.

“Now we come to ratify this agreement,” Hamilton said. “We went through the specs with the National Auto Fleet Group, but we didn’t find out until the October 28 deadline. If we had not met this deadline, we would have waited another 12 months for these vehicles.”

He noted that the vehicles will not go into service until after August 2022.

“Everything is taking so long right now,” he said.

The budget allowed $960,000, and the initial vehicle cost is just under $420,000.

“The balance of the $960,000 goes towards setup costs to ensure it has the right radios and equipment it needs to function as a command vehicle,” he said.

Councilor Gabe Teran asked how the vehicles differ from vehicles purchased from a consumer lot.

Hamilton said the committee is approving a vehicle purchase that someone could get on a consumer lot.

“Actually, it’s an F-150 chassis that we buy, so all the customization comes after that,” he said. “These are pretty much series vehicles that we get. Once we have these vehicles, we’ll add all the communications equipment, automatic vehicle tracking devices, and command box so we can actually conduct incidents from the back of these vehicles. All customization is done after we receive the cabin chassis.”

Teran said some people might think the city just recently bought vehicles for the fire department or the police.

“We have vehicles that are aging outside of frontline service, so we’re going to use them, and they’re going to go into reserve status to serve as replacements,” Hamilton said. “Two of the vehicles will be reassigned to other employees and three of those vehicles are for positions that we plan to expand over the next fiscal year. One of the things we want to do is split the city into two separate battalions so we’ll have two separate battalion chiefs each day. Three of the vehicles are brand new to the fleet and we haven’t had them before.”

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