Vendors venting over fire contract

What does Sweden, Ohio and Pittsburgh have in common?

Pittsburgh firehouses are getting new systems for venting diesel exhaust fumes, but some vendors are raising a stink about a city process that excluded American-made products and local installation teams in favor of an Ohio firm that installs imported equipment from Swedish manufacturer Nederman Inc.

At issue is the city's federally funded $977,550 project. The job went to Toledo-area Clean Air Systems Inc.

The city has so far paid $145,252 to outfit four fire stations. The invoice for the Forbes Avenue station totals $41,190, for rail-hose-and-duct systems for three vehicles, or $13,730 each.If the city spends the entire budgeted amount contemplated on its 49 fire trucks and some of its ambulances, its costs will be around $17,000 per vehicle. Of the cost, 80 percent is covered by a federal Department of Homeland Security grant, with the rest coming from city funds.

Mike Miklosko, owner of Hempstead-based EMS Specialty Equipment, which also installs such systems, called the price the city is paying "highway robbery."Mr. Miklosko, said he charges around $6,500 per vehicle. In Canonsburg, he bid $32,000 for a five-vehicle firehouse, winning a competitive process against three other firms.