OROVILLE – Emergency equipment seemed to be on the minds of Oroville mayor and city council at their Tuesday, Oct. 4 meeting with discussion again heating up regarding the purchase of a rescue boat.
The discussion on buying a Zodiac-type rubber rescue boat came up following questions from Scott Eisen, who appeared before council regarding the city’s proposed “no wake zone” ordinance. The new ordinance would set Oroville’s policy regarding the operation of watercraft from Osoyoos Lake Veterans Memorial Park to Zosel’s Dam. Eisen, who rents jet skis, questioned why the city was pursuing the ordinance and how his customers were supposed to know where the zone was when most of the area has no signs that indicate it.
“Actually, the county has had a no wake zone in that are for a long time, we’re hoping to get more buoy signs out there, we have them at the mouth of the river, but recently one broke loose,” said Rod Noel, Superintendent of Public Works.
Noel suggested Eisen inform his customers about the zone when he rents out his watercraft that way there would be no confusion.
“In answer to why there is a no wake zone, one reason is that some of the people who live along there have complained about the waves eroding their banks, especially when the water is high,” said Noel.
Eisen asked the council about the rescue boat saying he wondered if it was worthwhile getting something that will “sit around and get used maybe once a year.” He said that when he was diving for the city it was usually to recover a body and asked if having the boat was going to cost the city more in insurance. He also wondered where it would be stored and if it wasn’t just as easy for the police department to write tickets for no wake zone violators from Riverfront Park.
“You can’t put a dollar figure on a life,” said Debra Donahue, Oroville Ambulance Coordinator, adding that the rescue nature of the boat would mean that insuring it would be a minor cost to the city.
Noel, who is also the fire chief, said his department was asking for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant that would pay for the boat, motor and trailer, which will cost approximately $17,000 with a city match of $850.
Mayor Chuck Spieth told Eisen that the issue of storing the boat had already been addressed.
“My only concern is that I don’t want the police to have anything to do with it. It was my understanding that this was something that started off with the police and now it’s the fire department,” said Councilman Tony Koepke, who has made similar statements at previous council meetings.
“The money is better spent on training for the ambulance crew. It is 100 times more likely to save a life with that than with a boat for the police department,” said Koepke.
Mayor Spieth said he did not recall the circumstances surrounding the boat grant as going exactly the way Koepke described.
“The fire department is the only department that has the ability to write the grant. Clay and I wrote the grant together; they did a lot of the narrative,” said Noel, referring to Police Chief Warnstaff and his department.
Noel added that the boat would be under the fire department’s jurisdiction and not the police department’s.
Noel was asked for an update on the purchase of Omak’s used 50-foot ladder truck. The Oroville Fire Department has offered to purchase the truck from the Omak Fire Department. Omak is buying a newer 75-foot ladder truck. At the last council meeting the Oroville Rural Fire Department said they would like to participate in the purchase of the used fire truck as well.
“Omak’s new truck has not arrived yet, so they will be hanging on to the 50-foot ladder truck until it does. They’ve said they will leave the ladders with the truck, but will remove the radios because they are the same models as those in all the rest of their current equipment,” said Noel.
At a previous meeting the council gave Fire Chief Noel the go-ahead to buy the old truck, which has had extensive upgrades to it. The feeling is that the truck will aid the department in fighting fires in taller structures, whether it is residences, warehouses or bin piles. In the past the truck has been used in the area on warehouse fires and was also used in fighting the fires at Romar’s Restaurant and Lee Frank’s Mercantile in Tonasket.
The council asked for an update on the Oroville ambulance that is undergoing repairs after it was damaged when hit by a car.
Donohue said the Damscov Ford was waiting for the decals to go on the sides of the ambulance and for three red lights they thought had been ordered.
“When they get the parts it shouldn’t take too long,” she said, adding that it had been about four months since the repair work began.
“It says something about the work being done if it takes that long to figure out they needed to order those lights,” said Noel. “And shipments of parts can happen over night — I think it’s time we started to put some pressure on them. We have had the Tribe’s ambulance for backup, but we can’t expect them to let us use it forever. I bet if we had to rent another ambulance the insurance would make sure they got the work done faster. We may need to go up the ladder a bit.”