By Pat Jenkins
Eatonville Fire Department is in the running for federal money to buy a new emergency medical aid vehicle.
The agency has applied for a federal grant that would cover about $262,000 of the estimated cost of $277,000, including all equipment and taxes. The remaining $15,000 would be raised by the Eatonville Firefighters Association.
Fire chief Bob Hudspeth said officials are optimistic that the grant will be approved.
“With the current financial issues with the town, our medic unit being a 1996 (model) and our regional impacts of providing advanced life support (medical and patient transportation services)” for Fire Districts 17 and 23 and Mount Rainier National Park “that we have a good chance of securing that funding,” Hudspeth said.
Buying a new aid vehicle is beyond the town’s capability. The town is struggling with a budget that could require cuts in the Fire Department if a proposed levy for public safety isn’t approved by voters this November.
The federal grant program requires applicants to provide local financial contributions. A fill-the-boot campaign, in which firefighters will literally ask citizens to drop money into firefighting boots, will be part of the fund-raising by the firefighters association, a non-profit entity that is separate from the town and Fire Department.
Fund-raised money will “go into an account specifically designated for the new medic unit. If we are unsuccessful this year” in obtaining the federal grant, “the money will stay in the account and we will go after it again next year,” Hudspeth said.
The typical lifespan of an aid vehicle like the one Eatonville wants to buy is about 10 years. Such vehicles are safer for patients and Fire Department personnel “due to heavy-duty brakes and power trains,” Hudspeth said. He added that the new model also “would get better fuel mileage than our present medic unit.”