MFD has new rescue boat

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By Brian Sweeney
The Middletown-Hardenburgh Fire District recently purchased a rescue boat for use in flooding disasters and reservoir accidents.

The 16-foot, rigid hull inflatable boat is equipped with a 50-horsepower motor to provide ample power against surging floodwaters and on open reservoir waters. The boat is manufactured by Ribcraft in Marblehead, MA.

Margaretville Fire Department (MFD) First-Assistant Chief Nelson Delameter explained that the increased frequency of flooding, coupled with last spring’s opening of the Pepacton Reservoir for recreational boating, led to the decision to invest in the rescue craft.

Mr. Delameter said that between 12-15 members of the MFD, which covers the Middletown-Hardenburgh District, will enroll in a swift water rescue class in April, earning certification to pilot the boat in rescue circumstances. The boat will be put into service once the department members have completed this training.

Water safety training
He indicated that nearly everyone in the department has already finished a course in water safety.
A planned reservoir rescue operation in conjunction with personnel from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection was postponed when Hurricane Sandy struck downstate and the city’s manpower was allocated to that disaster. That training will be rescheduled for spring, Mr. Delameter noted.

Valuable upgrades
The MFD rescue craft cost $29,000, including a special trailer. Mr. Delameter said that upgrading to the 50 horsepower motor was necessary because jet prop motors lose about 30 percent of their efficiency against strong currents and a standard motor would not provide adequate power in rescue situations. He indicated that the rigid hull was another upgrade that was deemed essential to provide added durability.

Mr. Delameter said that he and fellow MFD member Alan Gavette traveled to Massachusetts to pick up the boat.

He said the department is pleased to have the new emergency apparatus, but is in no rush to put it to use.