San Juan County Council approved Sheriff Rob Nou's request to use federal funds to purchase a public safety boat for the county. The motion, approved unanimously, allows the expenditure of up to $600,000 of the $789,000 federal grant. The boat will be equipped for fire-fighting, search and rescue and other law enforcement activities.
It will be able to be used as for medical emergencies but won't be equipped as an water ambulance since the local Emergency Services Departments from each island declined to participate in the project. TEMTs and paramedics will need to bring equipment with them when they use the boat for rescues requiring medical care.
San Juan Island Fire Department signed onto the project and will contribute annually to the operation of the boat. The cost will be approximately $10,000 more than the district spends now on the fire boat Confidence which will be sold. The new boat will be more powerful, better equipped and allow personnel to be inside. Shaw Island fire and rescue also signed onto the project.
Orcas and Lopez fire and rescue departments declined and will pay per use of the boat. The fees will be established after the boat is delivered.
The design of the boat is underway. The delivery date is expected in August of 2014.
County Council member Jamie Stephens noted the boat will serve the non-ferry served islands which don't receive many other county services.
U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D-40th) was instrumental in the county receiving this grant through Homeland Security for the full amount requested. Homeland security granted a request from Sheriff Nou to waive a $220,000 match from the county.
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