June 23, 2009
Rescue boat for EFR is an easy choice
When we learned that Eastside Fire & Rescue staff wanted funding for a boat, our first thought was, “They don’t have one already?” The purchase of a rescue boat, so firefighters can help people caught in raging waters, should be a priority, not a matter of debate. EFR’s coverage area is crisscrossed with fast-flowing rivers, streams and deep lakes, all of which are prone to flooding more often than not.Right now, firefighters use a boogie board (a boogie board!) or a tossed life preserver to rescue people stranded in icy water. Lord help us all if they need to break out the water wings.
Even in tight budget times, there are some costs that are necessary — need-to-have items, not want-to-have items. The boat falls into the former category.
To make the decision even easier, EFR officials have hinted that a 14-foot inflatable raft might be donated. EFR tax collections would surely be able to cover maintenance costs and staff training time on a donated piece of lifesaving equipment.
This isn’t to say that all of the boats EFR officials are considering are necessary right now. While a raft to use in rescue situations is necessary, the discussed fleet of up to three larger watercraft is probably too much.
EFR officials recognize this and, quite responsibly, are asking for the smallest, cheapest piece of equipment that can do the job.
We understand some members of the EFR Board of Directors are hesitant to purchase much of anything in this economic climate. Their fiscal prudence serves everyone. But the idea of continuing the past practice of borrowing a citizen’s boat as needed falls apart rather easily — let’s hope he’s not on vacation during the next emergency.
The boat is not a toy officials want so they can be like the cool fire departments in the region. It is a critical piece of equipment that is part of the standard complement at fire departments around the country that have anything larger than a puddle in their response area.
Sooner or later, it will save someone’s life, making the cost of training a moot point.