New AFD boat can save lives - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New AFD boat can save lives

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November 22, 2006

Albany -- Emergency responders say they learned from the floods of 1994 and 1998 that South Georgia communities need for top flight rescue boats. Wednesday, the Albany Fire Department unveiled their new top of the line water craft, which they say will one day save lives.

The new Albany Fire Rescue Boat comes complete with emergency lights, siren, and a jet motor. The $22,000 rescue boat is twice as big as their old rescue boat, can carry more than 1,500 pounds, and twice as stable, which is very important during water rescues.

Chief James Carswell said "We actually sank the boat several times in the '94 and '98 floods. We actually had it overloaded, and it actually went down. So then you've got the problem with the victims being in the water, so we had some issues there."

AFD Lt. Bobby Spargo became the new fire rescue boat's first pilot, because he owns a jet powered fishing boat, and has a lot of experience driving one. 

The new rescue boat also comes equipped with top of the line GPS and sonar depth tracking equipment. "It's got the bottom finder, which tells us what depth the water is," Spargo said.  "It also aids in picking up objects off the bottom. It's equipped with a GPS, Global Positioning Sensor, that lets you know where you are at all times.  But you can actually go in and store different points in the river, points of interest, store them in, bring them up and go right back to them at any given time."

The 115 horsepower jet engine will allow the boat to cross rocks and water only four inches deep, and get to people in need much faster than their old rescue boat. "Below the Georgia Power Dam, there are some places that are really just impassable for boats with props.  This boat will go where the other ones won't," Spargo said.

Safety is the biggest advantage of this new wide profile rescue boat, which will keep the firefighters safer when called for a water rescue or missing person. The Fire Department will keep their old rescue boat, in case they need to put multiple boats in the water. The new Rescue boat was paid for with SPOLST Tax money.  

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