City authorizes transfer of fire engine to local tribe

by K.J. Lincoln

The Bethel City Council authorized the transfer of ownership of fire engine, Engine-28, to the Native Village of Napaimute honoring the request of the tribal organization. Council voted to adopt Action Memorandum 18-71, introduced by City Manager Pete Williams during the November 27th, 2018 regular council meeting.
The City of Bethel purchased Engine-28 from the State of Alaska for $1 in the mid-2000s. The Bethel Fire Department no longer needs this vehicle, states AM 18-71.
Back in August of this year, the Native Village of Napaimute expressed interest in acquiring the vehicle via a letter to council with the understanding that the vehicle was offered as available for donation to a formally organized entity in the region. Through a vote of their governing body, the Napaimute Traditional Council formally voted in favor of the acquisition.
“Napaimute has a storage facility and the expertise needed to repair and use this vehicle to protect their community,” AM 18-71 states. “The Native Village of Napaimute is a federally recognized tribe. Napaimute representatives are in the process of adding Engine 28 to their insurance.”
“During the wild fire season the truck will be made available to our neighboring Middle Kuskokwim communities on an as needed basis with only trained NVN personnel operating it,” said the NVN in their correspondence to the City of Bethel. “Napaimute is ideally suited geographically to respond to emergent needs of the nearly communities.”
The rules were suspended to allow Bethel Fire Chief Bill Howell to speak to the AM.
“This AM that we put together will allow us to start the process of disposing of our surplus fleet…The Native Village of Napaimute approached us about this vehicle as they do need a vehicle for doing fire protection and doing mitigation activities in the middle river. I am aware that over the last couple years they’ve helped support firefighting efforts in the middle river when they’ve had fires in Kalskag, Napaimute area, Aniak area. So they’ve been pretty proactive in doing that,” said Chief Howell. “It seems like a really good disposition of our equipment to somebody who can use it.”
Council voted all in favor, 6-0. Council member Fritz Charles was out due to illness.