County firefighters boat ready for river rescues

first_imgAbout 10 firefighters are trained to pilot Clark County Fire & Rescue’s 19-foot rescue boat and respond to calls along the Columbia, Lewis and Lake rivers. The 19-foot rescue boat took a few minutes to get going. The engine whined like a car not wanting to start. Once it roared to life, Fire Capt. Abe Rommel slowly pulled out from the 5 Mill St. dock, next door to Ridgefield Kayak Rentals.Rommel pilots Clark County Fire & Rescue’s jet-powered boat at 5 mph near the marina; anything damaged by the boat’s wake will be CCFR’s responsibility. The wake-free areas where boats have to slow down can sometimes slow down rescue response times, he said.The crew is waiting for FEMA’s final approval to get two new boats, called Quick Response Vehicles, equipped to respond to medical emergencies on the water and fight fires along the waterfront.Rommel said the current boat was bought on surplus from the sheriff’s office. And before that, CCFR had a 17-foot Boston Whaler, which couldn’t protect the crew from the elements when they went out on calls.“I miss it,” Rommel said. “It’s like your first car.”For now, firefighters trained to be boat pilots navigate the rescue boat along the Columbia River — anywhere from Martin Island to Frenchman’s Bar.last_img

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