Chief's fire engine rehab idea on hold

Plans by the North Whidbey Fire and Rescue District chief to save money by reconditioning fire apparatus rather than purchasing new equipment were put on hold at Tuesday’s board of commissioners meeting.

Fire Chief Marv Koorn had recommended rehabilitating the district’s fire engines and tenders rather than purchasing new equipment, because voters had twice turned down a levy lift proposal that left the district in a lurch for funds.

The a cost of reconditioning the equipment is approximately $25,000 per unit, while the cost of replacing a single fire engine alone is in excess of $125,000.

At Tuesday’s meeting Koorn told commissioners he had contacted H&W Emergency Vehicle Services in Hillsboro, Ore., and had been given a “ballpark” figure of approximately $30,000 to recondition one of the fire engines.

“This would include rebuilding the pump, an engine and transmission tuneup, installing new LED light equipment, general body cleanup and new striping,” he told the commissioners.

The reconditioning would extend the life of the fire engine five years.

Koorn recommended moving ahead with the project as soon as possible as it would be at least a six-week turnaround before the rehab was completed.

“I think we should proceed now rather than waiting until a major breakdown occurs which would end up costing us more money,” he said.

“Also, this would give us time to see how the reconditioned unit works once we get it back.”

Board Chairman Larry Morse agreed with the chief.

“I think we should go ahead with the rehab right away rather than wait, because soon we will be getting into the summer months, H&W could get busy. It would take more time for the job to get done and the price could go up,” he said.

Morse aired a motion authorizing Koorn spend up to $30,00 to have the fire engine reconditioned by H&W.

Commissioners Bruce Carman and T.J. Lamont doused the enthusiasm, saying they thought the district should wait.

“I think we should wait and have the chief contact some other departments who have dealt with H&R to see if they are satisfied with the work that was done,” Carman said.

Lamont agreed and said he thought the district should see if there have been “favorable reports” from other departments.

Morse’s motion died for a lack of a second and commissioners directed Koorn to contact other fire departments to see if they were satisfied with H&R’s work.

A special commission meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 24, to discuss the results of Koorn’s findings.

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