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Scappoose fire preps new boat for service

Scappoose Rural Fire District takes possession of 2004 aluminum jet boat


by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - Scappoose Rural Fire District Lt. Josh Marks and Division Chief Chris Lake stand aboard the districts new 30-foot aluminum jet boat, which they say should be ready for service within a month. The Scappoose Rural Fire District will soon retire its old fire boat to instead cruise the Multnomah Channel with a 2004, 30-foot-long, Quick Response aluminum jet boat.

The fire district acquired the boat in mid-January and it will likely be ready for regular use within a month, officials said.

SRFD Lt. Josh Marks said the district was able to purchase the boat from a Virginia agency for $450,000. The Urban Area Security Initiative, a Department of Homeland Security program, has awarded a grant to SRFD to cover half that cost, Marks added.

Chris Lake, SRFD division chief, said the district will likely sell its former English-built, 1970s-era fire boat to a neighboring agency.

Ronda Melton, spokeswoman with SRFD, said Multnomah Channel residents are “very excited” to see the district with a new boat.

“They’re finally going to have some protection,” she said. With the maintenance issues with the former boat, she said fire officials were “always hoping it starts when we go down there.”

Marks said the older boat was difficult to repair — having been manufactured with parts from overseas — and that it left a large wake in its path. Lake said the new boat can travel at 40 mph while creating only a six-inch wake.

“Unless there’s a confirmed fire or threat to safety, we do not disturb wake zones,” Marks said.

Lake said the boat is equipped with some new tools, as well. Forward-looking infrared technology will allow crews to look through a camera and detect heat sources at night, potentially helping to locate individuals in the water and drastically improving the district’s night operations, Lake said.

Fire crews will also need to go through training to learn to operate the craft and all of its devices.

“It takes a lot to get a fire apparatus in service,” Marks said, adding the boat’s radio, lights and other devices require installation. “It takes hours of training that have to be put in before we can respond with the boat.”

Marks said SRFD, in addition to calls within its own district, will respond to calls from Columbia River Fire & Rescue, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and other entities through mutual aid agreements.

Of the boat’s drivers, Marks said the district’s six current boat operators are first in line to receive training to operate the new boat. Eventually, Marks said, the district will have 15 to 20 boat drivers.

SRFD covers 16 marinas on the Multnomah Channel and responds to a variety of boating incidents throughout the area.