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Firefighters Cook Up Thanks

POSTED October 13, 2010 2:56 a.m.

Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District (ORFD) showed its appreciation to the Oakdale Irrigation District for its generous monetary donation that made the purchase of a new rescue craft possible, with a good old-fashioned barbecue with burgers and all the fixings Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 5.

The original plan had been to launch the new boat at the Orange Blossom recreation area but early morning rain and the threat of more showers caused a last minute venue change to Station 1 in Oakdale, but that didn’t seem to bother anyone as they enjoyed the grub.

OID approved a $32,500 request from the rural district to purchase the rescue craft and other ancillary water rescue equipment. Without the donation, the rural fire district wouldn’t have been able to replace the aging and non-repairable rescue boat.

“The rural fire district is a great resource to our area and they provide a great service,” Steve Knell, OID General Manager, said. “They had a safety need as it relates to river and water rescue operations and Chief (Lee) Winton supplied the backup information on the benefits to our area for meeting that need. OID, as a promoter of safety, felt our involvement and participation was beneficial.”

Chief Winton said the funding was “critical to the district” and much appreciated.

Winton added that OID has donated $54,000 jointly to the Oakdale Fire Protection District and Oakdale Fire Department for technical rescue training (trench rescue, hazardous materials, swift water rescue, low angle rescue, etc.) and, if needed, some equipment. The two agencies are currently firming up their plans to spend that money for the upcoming training season.

“When one looks at the huge investment in fire engines and equipment to respond to structural fires versus the nominal expense in a river/water rescue craft, it was worth the investment on OID’s part to fill that need. OID is a supporter of the Sheriff's life jacket program and other river/water safety programs in our area and so the involvement at this level was appropriate as determined by the Board.”

The rural district responds to approximately four to six river rescue calls a year but the new boat will also make assistance with other agencies with the need for a boat possible. The new boat, like its predecessor, will be housed at the Knights Ferry station.

Knell said, “During these tough economic times there are lots of need requests that aren’t getting met. All requests for community participation go through the Board’s Community Relations and Policy Committee and then go before the full Board for approval. The Board has turned down lots of requests and likewise has approved those that have or prove to provide the biggest community benefit. The size of that OID budget item is weighed and scrutinized each year and depends on the revenues of the District on an annual basis.”

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