Ironton Fire Department gets search, rescue boat

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 31, 2004

Emergency service workers will tell you, it is better to be prepared and never needed, than to be needed but not prepared.

With this in mind, Ironton firefighters are showing off a new boat in their possession that can be used in water recovery incidents.

The 19-foot inflatable boat actually belongs to the Department of Homeland Security District 7, but will be housed in Ironton.

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The boat arrived Dec. 22. It's price tag: $24,997, paid for by an Urban Search and Rescue grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

"The state made grants available for rescue equipment," Lt. Joe Stevens said. "Since we've got so many bridges and overpasses, the concern is for bridge collapse. Obviously there are other ways that we can use it."

He stressed that city monies were not used in any way to pay for the boat; it was bought by the state for the southern Ohio region and will be kept in Ironton.

The boat has a 60 horsepower outboard Mercury motor. It has dive tank holders in the event anyone locally would be trained as a diver; it could be used as a diver platform. One feature of the boat is a zippered compartment in its floor that would allow rescuers to bring a person into the board from the water without having to heave that victim up and over the side of the boat.

It is also designed to float in as little as six inches of water. It is equipped with a global positioning system and depth finders.

"This will not only benefit the people of Ironton and Lawrence County but the entire region," said Tom Coelho, deputy director of the Vinton County Emergency Management Agency. "If the need arises, a group can be activated and sent anywhere in the state or out of state."