Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire and Rescue has received a new fire boat. Designated as Fire Boat 16, the new fire boat will replace an older department boat with extremely limited capabilities, said Fire Chief Rick Davis.
The new fire boat was built by Lake Assault Boats in Superior, Wis. and is powered by two Mercury 350-HP engines. The 28-foot boat has a full pilot house and is equipped with up-to-date technology for conducting water operations, including navigation systems, an onboard generator, communications equipment, 30-gallon foam tank and compartment storage for fire and water rescue equipment.
The boat’s onboard fire pump, rated at 1500 gallons per minute, will allow the department to provide large volumes of water almost anywhere along the lake shore to combat fires. The pump can also be used to fill tankers along the shoreline to transport water inland where water supplies maybe limited or unavailable. The pump is powered by V8 GM engine.
The fire/rescue boat also has a hydraulic bow door, which can be used for water rescue operations, shoreline water supply operations as well as loading and unloading personnel and equipment from the shoreline. It is additionally equipped with a FLIR (forward-looking infrared) system. This system’s infrared radiation sensors are vital for night rescue operations, allowing crews to quickly spot targets and objects on the water or on land.
The boat has been in the department’s planning stages for more than 10 years and it will greatly enhance the department’s water rescue and firefighting capabilities on Lake Norman, said Davis.
“Most do not think of a fire boat as an essential fire apparatus in a fire department–unless you provide fire and water rescue services to more than 117 miles of shoreline like we do,” said Davis. “This is considered a special apparatus much like a rescue or ladder truck, in that it provides special capabilities which enable us to provide services to our citizens, both who may live on the lake and those who live inland. Think of it as a fire truck without wheels that floats on the water.”
Davis commended the department’s Fire/Rescue Boat Committee, chaired by Deputy Chief Justin Butler, and its members Battalion Chief Houston Garris, Captains Billy Danforth and Captain Cody Brackett, for their efforts to procure the new boat.
“They put in many hours in working with Lake Assault and others to design a fire/rescue boat that would meet the needs of our department in providing services to our community, and they did an outstanding job,” said Davis.
The department has already begun limited types of training on the new boat, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department cannot predict when the new fire boat will actually go into service. Davis said they hope to start using the boat within four to six weeks, but that projection could change depending on a variety of factors.
Both public and private stakeholders contributed to the acquisition of SFTFR’s new fire boat.
“We would like to thank the members of Denver Fire Department and Chief Jay Flynn for allowing us the opportunity to visit, ask questions, and seek their input on this project,” Davis said. “Denver Fire Department is one of our neighboring departments who we work closely with both on and off the water. Denver’s fire boat, which was also manufactured by Lake Assault Boats about 10 years ago, was what our department used as the initial design platform, and Chief Flynn and their members provided us with valuable input as we began our design build.”
Davis said private contractor HydroHoist of the Carolinas was another valuable partner in the fire boat project, providing boat lift installations for the new boat and the department’s other boat, Marine 2. HydroHoist of the Carolinas owner Mike Lineberger served SFTFR as rescue chief and assistant chief for several years and was an advocate both for the department itself and its need for a fire boat.
“Ultimately, this project would not have been possible without our resident and business owners we have the honor to serve, so thank you to all of our community!” Davis said. “Secondly, thanks to our Board of Directors for your continued guidance and support, our elected Catawba County Commissioners and Catawba County Emergency Services staff for your support and the great partnerships we have together.”
Marine 2 is located at Lake Norman Marina. The new Fire Boat 16 will be located at The Boat Rack to provide the department with strategic launch locations on the lake.
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