December 19, 2001 11:00 pm

The La Grande Fire Department is almost assured of becoming Union Countys ambulance provider.

No other agencies or companies submitted proposals to the countys ambulance selection committee. The county commissioners were scheduled to receive the citys proposal today and set a public hearing for 10 a.m. Jan. 2 in the Joseph Annex.

Two private, for-profit corporations requested information about providing ambulance service for the county but neither submitted proposals.

Grande Ronde Hospital, which now runs the ambulance, has said it will discontinue service about the middle of January. Since last spring, hospital and city representatives have been discussing the details of transferring the service.

Fire Chief Bruce Weimer said earlier this year that his department was ready to begin ambulance service. He also said the department will hire four paramedics to add to its paramedic staff of two and will give first consideration to paramedics now employed by the hospital. Five firefighters-EMTs will staff each shift, with two people assigned to the primary ambulance and three to the fire engine and secondary ambulance.

The fire department will provide ambulance service to the entire county and will continue to work with basic life support service ambulances in Union and Elgin.

The hospital has agreed to donate three fully equipped ambulances to the fire department and will provide ongoing paramedic training in the emergency room.

Both hospital and city representatives have said that they expect a smooth transition and no breaks in service.