Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Liverpool Fire Department (LFD) and North Queens Fire Department (NQFD) now have new rescue boats to add to their arsenal of emergency equipment.
The vessels replace their crafts that are more than 15 years old.
Captain John Long of the LFD credited the fundraising efforts of the department's ladies' auxiliary for helping it to purchase a new Highfield Patrol 600 boat, which is worth more than $50,000 when all decked out.
The boat replaces the department's 1994 Zodiak Hurricane that was near the end of its life.
"It's a fantastic boat and to have that paid for is amazing. We've been fortunate with the last couple of major purchases," said Long. "The ladder truck we recently had to purchase was paid off by the Murphy Foundation and now this. The ladies busted their tails off to raise this money."
Covey Island Boatworks supplied the boat which contains all the necessary gear for ice and water rescue efforts, including a basket-backboard to stabilize people with back injuries and bring them into the boat.
It's also equipped with high-definition sonar equipment for underwater search and rescue.
According to Long, on average the department might use a rescue boat about four times a year, but "it's one of those things you hope you never have to use."
Since taking ownership of the boat in early May, the department has used it twice assisting in call-outs - once at Ten Mile Lake and once at Molega Lake.
NQFD Fire Chief Chris Wolfe said that department's boat had been deemed unusable and a new one was imperative.
The fire department saved up to purchase the new craft almost a year ago, but it took up until recently to get all the gear installed and the vessel ready to hit the water.
The boat cost about $35,000 and much of the equipment was installed by New Elm Marine Service in South Brookfield.
The 16-foot Whaly craft features a drop-down bow to give rescuers a flat surface to pull someone into the boat, or a canoe if necessary. There are numerous lights for night rescues and it has a Stokes basket on the back for people who may have had spinal injuries.
According to Wolfe, the NQFD uses its boats six or eight times a year and there are eight firefighters on the roster who are trained in water rescue.
Four of the five fire departments in the Region of Queens Municipality have rescue boats ready to respond to an emergency on the water.