Americans want a piece of the multi million shekel pie that Israel is expected to invest in the next year for the purchase of new fire trucks. Ynet learned that the US embassy in Tel Aviv has approached the Ministry of Industry Trade and Labor with a complaint over the fact that there seems to be discrimination against US fire trucks in the Fire Services Commission tenders.
According to the complaint, even though US trucks are sold in Israel and fulfill the standardization requirements, the commission states its preference for the European trucks in advance as a basis for the trucks it purchases.
Recently the government approved a supply budget of NIS 350 million ($96.4 million) which is meant to solve the 100 fire truck shortage throughout Israel and the age of some of the trucks still in service.
The budget is set to increase as soon as the Fire Services Commission is moved from the authority of the Interior Ministry to that of the Ministry of Public Security. Due to this decision, the Home front Command will also be purchasing a number of fire trucks using a budget of NIS 50 million ($13.77 million) it recently received for that purpose.
The American trucks whose price is the same as those of their European counterparts have one advantage: They can be purchased through US defense aid funds, and not at the high expense of a shekel budget. This is intended not only for the IDF fire trucks but for those intended for civilian service as well.
US: Not complaining
This acquisition can be made up of the finished product – the complete trucks, or as is customary today, the truck chassis’ are sent over and construction is completed at one of the local fire truck factories – like Kibbutz Beit Alfa or Hatehof manufactories.
The Fire Services Commission stated that “fire truck tenders demand trucks with a ‘television’ configuration, meaning, without a bulging ‘nose’, in order to allow for easier city maneuvering.
“This is a common configuration on European trucks, but we would be happy to receive offers for the purchase of this style of truck from American manufacturers. We operate American made rescue vehicles, and there is nothing precluding us from purchasing American fire trucks if they suit our demands.”
In response, the US embassy stated that it confirmed that the embassy approached the commission but noted that “it wasn’t a complaint, we approached the ministry with a routine question through the embassy’s customary efforts to promote trade between the two countries.”