A $500,000 fire boat is on track to be delivered later this year to South Whidbey Fire/EMS.
The fire district’s commissioners took a chance with first-time boat building company North Cross Aluminum. Owned by Tim Leonard, the shop is in Freeland, only a few miles away from South Whidbey Fire/EMS headquarters.
Leonard and his crew of aluminum workers pitched their prior experience with Nichols Brothers Boat Builders. Established in 2012, North Cross had not previously constructed a boat.
Commissioners went with Leonard’s bid, which was the only one submitted after the fire district sent out a request for proposal to build its marine response vessel. It will be mostly funded by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant, which accounts for $350,000.
Leonard’s bid was submitted at $478,893.77. In addition to being the only bidder, he touted his company’s South Whidbey ties. The commissioners liked the company’s potential and its workers’ experience enough to award the grant in April.
Two payments were made to North Cross for the 32-foot long, 12-foot wide boat.