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story.lead_photo.caption Firefighters with the Northeast Benton County Fire Department move a new fire and rescue boat to a trailer April 9 at the main fire station in Garfield. - Photo by Flip Putthoff

GARFIELD -- The Northeast Benton County Volunteer Fire Department took delivery of its new fire-rescue boat Aug. 9.

NEBCO board chair Kara Funk said the boat, which cost $365,000, is used for fighting fires, as a mobile fire hydrant on Beaver Lake and for water rescues.

"It allows us to take care of medical emergencies on the lake," she said.

It's important for the department to have a boat, she said, as NEBCO covers a portion of Beaver Lake. Having this boat should improve the surrounding area's Insurance Service Office, or ISO, rating, which can affect homeowner's insurance rates, Funk said.

Part of what determines that rating is the availability of water. Hydrants may be scarce near the lake, she said, but the boat makes water available at nearly any shoreline.

"This boat is a water source," Funk said. "It saves thousands of dollars in homeowners' insurance costs."

The boat was funded with roughly one-third paid by the department up front, another third financed and another from donations and grants.

The boat was to replace a former Coast Guard boat, she said, which was built in 1973 and is beyond repair.

In addition to being newer, it's much more capable. The onboard pumps, she said, are more effective -- capable of pumping 1,500 gallons per minute -- and the layout is better designed to facilitate water rescues, including a larger cab to help shelter people from weather.

One feature is a gate on the boat's nose. It can fold forward, she said, and function as a ramp to allow individuals and equipment to travel directly between the shore and the boat, which saves emergency workers the risk associated with lifting people and gear over the edge of the boat.

There will be maintenance costs, she said, but the boat is engineered for the exact job the department is putting it to and she expects it to last.

"It's going to easily be a 40-year unit," Funk said.

NEBCO Fire Department chief Rob Taylor said he expects this boat will fit the department's needs well.

Water rescue can be difficult, he said, because there are a lot of unknowns that simply aren't there in land rescue.

"You're dealing with a lot of situations out there on the water," he said. "A lot of the things beneath you are unknown and you can't see them."

Having better tools, he said, will make the fire and EMS crews' jobs safer and easier.

He appreciated the community's help in acquiring this boat, he said.

"NEBCO and myself thank the citizens for making this happen," Taylor said. "It's unbelievable that a community this small could raise this much money."

One member of the community, Glenda Fagg, came out to watch the new boat's delivery.

Fagg said she retired from firefighting in 2000 and her late husband, J.D. Fagg, retired from his post as a state fire marshal in 2007 before they moved to Lost Bridge Village. Despite his retirement, he worked on NEBCO's boat crew and, all told, had roughly 41 years of fire service.

Fagg said she was impressed with the boat and pleased to see the department was able to get it.

"I just wish my husband was here," she said.

NW News on 08/21/2017

Print Headline: Group gets new fire-rescue boat

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