New boat to help with firefighting, search and rescue on Lake Tahoe
The Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District (TDFPD) recently announced the arrival of a “one-of-a-kind” fire rescue boat that will greatly enhance the agency’s ability to fight fires and provide marine rescue operations.
The boat, named Marine 24, has the capacity to act as a fire engine on the water by using the lake to provide direct fire suppression.
“This boat is like a floating fire engine or fire hydrant on the water, with a full spectrum of the latest technology to aid in saving lives and protecting property,” Eric Guevin, TDFPD fire marshal, said in a press release. “We really needed this type of apparatus to meet the code requirements and provide for fire protection.”
The new boat is especially crucial for the 128 residences within the fire district that lack access to a municipal water system and a fire hydrant. As TDFPD points out, increasingly larger homes are being built closer together within the district, meaning a fire at one residence could threaten many others.
Compounding the issue, emergency access to these homes can be very poor with narrow roads and limited room for responding fire trucks, the district says.
The fire district hired an independent third-party fire engineer to evaluate the situation and provide possible strategies to address the issues. The new fire boat was recommended by the fire engineer. The TDFPD Board of Trustees approved the fireboat purchase as a means of addressing the issue until more permanent upgrades to the water systems can be planned and funded.
“A comprehensive plan has been developed to aid firefighting in these areas without traditional fire suppression water supply,” TDFPD Fire Chief Scott Baker said in the release. “Currently we would send fire engines and a water tender to a fire event, all which can carry a very limited supply of water to the scene.
“The new boat will give our firefighters access to a much larger water supply pumped from the lake in a safe and ecological manner,” Baker added. “This new capability will directly save life, property and our precious Lake Tahoe environment from catastrophic fire damage.”
TDFPD has responded to 17 fire and rescue incidents on the lake over the last two years, according to the district. These included a fire aboard the historical Tahoe Queen and a dangerous water rescue that occurred when a boat sank in the dark of night leaving four young tourists clinging to an ice chest in the middle of the lake.
Marine 24 was designed with touchscreen GPS, sonar, chart plotting 4G radar, remote controlled forward looking infrared system and a hydraulically operated bow door for water rescue efforts, according to the district. The boat cost nearly $500,000.
It was built by Lake Assault Boats in its Superior, Wisconsin shipyard. A committee of TDFPD employees worked with the manufacturer over the past two years to design a boat that meets the district’s specifications.