SFD trains for rescueSuperior firefighters were seeing yellow this week as they trained with a new inflatable craft off Barker’s Island. The Rapid Deployment Craft, purchased with federal Port Security Grant dollars, adds a new, versatile tool to the Superior Fire Department’s toolkit.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Superior firefighters were seeing yellow this week as they trained with a new inflatable craft off Barker’s Island. The Rapid Deployment Craft, purchased with federal Port Security Grant dollars, adds a new, versatile tool to the Superior Fire Department’s toolkit.
“It’s really a flexible piece of equipment,” said Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger, which can be used year-round for water and ice rescue situations.
“It stows up in a bag and can be packed in just about anywhere,” Panger said. It inflates in about 30 seconds and can carry more than 2,000 pounds of weight. The craft can be paddled, mounted with a motor or pulled behind a boat or personal watercraft. The bow and stern of the boat are open, so rescuers can go right up to a victim, slip the boat around them and pull them onto the center floor section.
“It’s kind of a unique piece of equipment,” Panger said, and it’s now in service.
The inflatable boat would have been handy to have this spring when a construction worker from Mississippi was rescued after spending the night on a piece of ice on the St. Louis River.
“It would have been perfect for that,” Panger said. The ice was pretty broken up at the time and the man was surrounded by open water about 300 yards from shore. Instead of waiting for the St. Louis County airboat, Superior firefighters could have deployed the inflatable boat immediately.
The banana-yellow boat is sturdy, too. Half a dozen firefighters piled on during training this week, trying to flip it. They didn’t succeed, Panger said.
The new addition will be housed on one of the fire rigs, unlike the department’s other two craft, a fireboat and a Lund fishing boat. The rescue boat and a couple extras, including more water rescue suits, cost $7,000.
“We’re thankful for the grant,” the fire chief said. “It really sets us up much better for water rescue.”