Rock Island Fire Officials Push To Get Rescue Boat
Rock Island fire officials are stepping up efforts to get a fire and rescue boat for the department, which hasn't had one of its own for several decades.
There were some tense moments on the Mississippi River Monday when a canoe capsized near Sunset Marina, leaving one man struggling to stay above the surface.
"Right away when we got dispatched, we called for mutual aid from the Arsenal and Davenport," said Rock Island Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Yerkey.
Without a fire boat of the city's own, Rock Island has relied on nearby agencies for water rescue efforts in situations like this for years. Crews did have a small boat on loan from the Rock Island Arsenal Fire Department for a while, but it's been out of service for the last couple of years. Since then, officials have been searching for funds to get one, but it hasn't fit in the budget.
"It can be pretty costly when you factor in the boat itself and also equipment, training," said Yerkey.
In Monday's case, crews used a civilian boat as the quickest way to get to the stranded canoeist. Assistant Chief Yerkey says the department doesn't respond to many river rescues but, while the mutual aid agreement works well, it can sometimes take time for other crews to reach the call. There could be multiple victims in the water in different locations.
Considering the city will soon have a new marina at Schwiebert Park, fire officials are making a more aggressive push. They hope to put a plan in place for a fire and rescue boat and see if it fits in the upcoming budget.
"We are surrounded by water, so obviously it would make sense for us to have a boat," added Yerkey.
Chief James Fobert says a small boat, something around $40,000, is what they're looking for. If it's not completely within the budget this year, the plan is to search for grants and donations to make it happen.