Joseph Fire Department and Walla Walla Community College will receive an estimated
$20,000 worth of firefighting equipment from Wallowa Lake Rural Fire Protection District.
Directors of the Wallowa Lake district declared equipment worth an estimated $20,000 in fair market value as surplus on Monday, Feb. 18. The board agreed to donate the majority to Joseph Fire and the rest to the college.
“Our board felt that the equipment should be put to use rather than gather dust waiting for our ability to ever use it, which is doubtful,” Board President Chuck Anderson said. “There’s no better recipient for this equipment than our reliable partner fire department.”
Division of the surplus between Joseph Fire and the college was recommended by Jeffrey Wecks, the district’s fire chief, in collaboration with Matt Walker, a volunteer firefighter and former lake fire chief. Joseph provides fire protection services to the lake district under a contract, including stationing a Joseph fire engine at the lake staffed by Joseph volunteer firefighters who live at the lake.
Items not needed by Joseph Fire will go to the Walla Walla college’s fire science program for use in training student firefighters.
The equipment includes fire hose, nozzles and couplings, turnout clothing and boots, firefighting tools, extinguishers and breathing apparatus. Some items are new, some used and many have definite shelf lives.
The items had been collected over the years by the district and stored at the Wallowa Lake fire station. When the district was formed in 2002, directors expected eventually to operate a standalone fire department that would utilize the gear, but economic factors have made that virtually impossible. In recent months, district board members discussed at their public meetings what to do with the items.
“Our citizens expect this gear to be used, not just stored here,” director Bob Young, who also is fire chief of Falls City, told the board at its December meeting. “If we can’t use it, it should go somewhere where it will be put to use.”
Disposition of the equipment is in line with the current board’s intention to be “realistic about the district’s role and wise about how it spends its tax dollars,” Anderson said.
The district board last year sold a used fire engine that had been purchased by a previous board but never put into service because it wasn’t fully operational. Similarly, a boat that an earlier board had equipped for firefighting but which was never used was returned to ownership of the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office and removed from the lake station.
Walla Walla Community College has a working relationship with Joseph Fire and the lake district. Last year, Joseph Fire donated a surplus engine to the college in exchange for used folding chairs for the lake station and an agreement for the college’s diesel mechanic program to service Joseph engines when major work is needed. The relationship evolved through talks between Joseph Fire Chief Tom Clevenger and college President Steve VanAusdle, who owns a vacation home at the lake.