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Search continues for rescue boat

The North Whidbey Fire and Rescue District is continuing its search for an acceptable rescue boat after a plan to purchase a used watercraft belonging to the Cle Elum Fire District was defeated by a two-to-one vote at Tuesday’s meeting.

At past district meetings plans had been made, even to the point where specifications were developed, for the purchase of a catamaran-style rescue boat of up to 28 feet in length.

But all that has changed and the district opted to go with the purchase of a rigid-hulled boat no more than 25 feet in length.

At previous meetings commissioners had pretty much decided the best way to go would be with a catamaran.

The decision was made over the objections of Chief Marv Koorn and all but one of the district’s officers.

“I said at the meeting it’s the consensus of opinion of all the officers except one that a catamaran would give us the best work platform during water rescue situations,” Koorn said.

Chairman Bruce Carman said the Cle Elum boat, which is currently moored in Port Angeles, was not acceptable to the board and this was the reason they decided to go another way.

“Two of the commissioners voted against the proposal,” he said. “One of them decided we didn’t want to go with a boat that large and the other figured it would be better to get one that is closer in design and size to the number 21 Northwind boat we already have to facilitate training.”

Commissioners Larry Morse and T.J. Lamont voted against the proposal.

The Cle Elum boat is a 28-foot catamaran and the asking price is $50,000.

“Now we are basically going to go with the specs for a boat we had when we began searching for one a year-and-a-half ago. One that is 23 to 25 feet in length with a rigid hull,” Koorn said.

In the past few weeks, the district has had to use its 21-foot boat for three water rescues.

“In the past six weeks, we have had three cases where we needed to move the boat to Crescent Harbor for rescues,” Koorn said. “The commissioners remarked we could always consider doing less water rescues, but I don’t think that’s what the community wants. We need another boat to maintain rapid response.”

Carman said he agreed with the chief and the officers’ recommendation to purchase a catamaran.

“I believe it was satisfactory to the district and the officers, captains and above, who were polled by the chief and I agreed that the Cle Elum boat was acceptable,” he said. “I was going with the fire chief and the officers’ point of view about the boat they wanted to purchase. I made the motion to accept the proposal, which failed.”

Koorn was directed by commissioners to develop a set of specifications for a rigid-hulled boat in a price range from $130,000 to $150,000 and the search for a new watercraft will continue.

Commissioners accepted Koorn’s job description and employee manual for paid on-call firefighters and directed the chief to begin advertising for the positions.

The process has also begun for filling several vacant captain’s positions within the district.

The district will be looking at its positions program to see if there is a need to move any captains around within the department and if any additional officers need to be promoted to captain positions. Possible promotions are still in the planning process and hopefully will be completed by May.

Commissioners received one bid for upgrading and repair of the Silver Lake Fire Station.

The cost ranges from a high of $67,000 to complete everything, down to $31,000.

“We have four different categories of less money with less options we are exploring,” Koorn said.

Commissioners are reviewing the bid proposals and a decision will be made at the next meeting

The district’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 15.

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