January 20th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

Portland's New Rescue Boat Will Get New Radar System

NoPo Fire 3

Commissioner Dan Saltzman remained mum this morning when City Council approved its consent agenda, which included an update on Commissioner Randy Leonard's plan to buy a high-speed rescue boat.

That rescue boat purchase was approved 4-1 last October in response to the death of a 4-year-old boy, who was pushed off the Sellwood Bridge along with his older sister. The girl survived. The mother pleaded not guilty.

Saltzman was the lone "no" vote at the time, saying he didn't support using $200,000 from the city's reserves to buy the $367,000 boat.

But this morning, there was no discussion when city commissioners approved a $7,500 donation toward the purchase of a $16,713 "forward-looking infrared radar" that will be installed on the boat.

A small matter, surely. But the decision is one that reveals a couple of curious facts about City Hall and the inner workings of city government.

A private company that sells fire insurance to property owners is donating the money (along with five laptops) to the city. The Fire Bureau isn't ready to make the purchase, so it's asking the company to give the money to Toy N Joy Makers, a $1.2 million-a-year nonprofit run by retired Portland firemen out of an old Portland firehouse that gives toys to poor kids.

A spokesman for the fire bureau says the private company, the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, is essentially "parking" the money with the nonprofit until the city is ready to spend it on the radar.

In the last five years, the Fireman's Fund has donated about $200,000 to Portland, Fire Lt. Allen Oswalt says.

Photo of training exercise in North Portland.
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