Albany Fire Rescue boat training has added importance - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany Fire Rescue boat training has added importance

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email
August 20, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - In recent weeks Albany Firefighters have been training with their rescue boat. Now with Tropical Storm Fay possibly bearing down on South Georgia, that fire rescue boat could be called on to help flood victims.

Albany Firefighters are undergoing fire rescue boat training this summer, taking the jet boat on Lake Chehaw and the Flint River.

Captain Daniel Potter said "different crews are going to be operating this boat at different times. So we have to make sure everyone has a good understanding of the vehicle. What it's limitations are, and what it can do."

That training has now taken on extra importance, as firefighters watch Tropical Storm Fay, which is predicted to bring huge amounts of rainfall over South Georgia this weekend. Firefighters who used boats to rescue flood victims in 1994 and 1998 designed this 125 horsepower jet boat.

Chief James Carswell said "When we looked at that we put a committee together that experienced all those events, so they could say what kind of features in a boat we would like to have, to make that job easier. This boat is a product of that."

Firefighters have used lessons learned from 1994 to begin preparations in case Fay creates flooding problems.

Potter said "We are already pre-planning. Calling in off duty firefighters. We're making sure out reserve rescue boats are operational. They'll be taking them out today to run them, to make sure everything is OK. Just training and being ready for it is far superior to what it was in the past."

The Fire Rescue Boat has GPS and sonar equipment that has pre-plotted the waterways in Dougherty County, so they can reach almost any portion of the Flint River. The boat was used in the search operations two weeks ago when two people drown by Riverfront Park. Now firefighters have it ready in case it's needed for Tropical Storm Fay.

The Albany Fire Department bought this 30-thousand dollar rescue boat two years ago, and train on it annually.

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