The Kenai Fire Department took St. Patrick’s Day for the occasion of showcasing their new rescue response water craft. “This will be our new primary rescue boat for the department,” said Chief Jeff Tucker on a perfect spring day. “The department has had for many years a rigid hull inflatable craft which gave us good capabilities within the river and out in the inlet. What this boat does is gives us an extra measure of stability, safety for our responders with the enclosed cabin and a larger platform for us to work on and a capacity to hold ten people and be able to get out into heavier seas in the Inlet. We also have the responsibility with the airport being in the city to go out and provide potentially downed aircraft rescue and other Inlet operations so this craft gives us a lot more stable platform to work at in much more difficult seas and situations,” said Tucker.
The new craft also gives the responders more speed when answering a call, “With these two twin 225 HP Honda outboards on here we’ll be moving a lot faster and decrease our response time greatly over what it has been in the past. It also does have the capacity to tow if the situation should require.” According to Tucker the boat is a 25ft safe boat that was formerly a Coast Guard vessel out of California, “A gentleman in Juneau purchased the craft and trailer then repowered it with the new engines and put new electronics and hydraulics in it with new seats to bring it up to standard. We were able to find the boat on sale from him and provide a unique asset for our department at a reasonable cost. The City paid $100,000 for it fully equipped, to purchase the boat new equipped as it is today would be upwards of $375,000, which we obviously couldn’t have afforded so we are very pleased to have this vessel as part of our rescue tool box in the department.” Tucker says special training will be offered to operate the new vessel and learn more about open water rescue.