From Stevens County, District 12:

Stevens county emergency response volunteers and firefighters have worked for years to develop a marine fire and rescue program that can respond to the unexpected water emergency. The entire western border of our county is waterfront, containing miles of hard to reach, remote access along Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Areas shoreline, and extending into the Columbia and Kettle rivers in the northern part of the county. The diverse outdoor recreation available along our waterfront attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to vacation and visit during the summer months. These guests bring economic prosperity to the area, but also this rise in population brings the potential for a proportional increase in the amount of unfamiliar emergency, or water rescue situations.

Washington state has experienced more fires in the last few years, motivating and reminding us to be prepared for the unexpected emergency. The District 12 volunteers have worked for over 10 years to produce a  marine fire rescue boat to assist and access the Stevens County western border. The retired 24-foot Coast Guard “Sea Arc” was purchased from federal surplus equipment lists and then transported from Sitka, Alaska to Seattle by ferry. District 12 volunteers picked up the boat from the Seattle ferry terminal and delivered it to its new home at the Rice fire department.  

The local firefighters have worked for hundreds of hours to repair the boat and trailer. This time was also used to improve training opportunities for our volunteers, prepare SOP’s for the county EMS, and develop a program to work with cooperating agencies. After almost a year of preparation the District 12 fire boat is available now for limited response to a variety of fire and water/ rescue emergencies by just calling 911.

Capabilities will include:

  • Firefighting on shore and on water
  • Water rescue and emergency response
  • Transfer of fire fighters, and medical response teams
  • Fill fire trucks and drop tanks from lake
  • Hazmat and/or chemical spill support
  • Law enforcement support
  • Border Patrol Support
  • Support Public Ferry at Gifford, which crosses Lake Roosevelt 60 times a day for 51 weeks a year
  • Support Colville and Spokane Reservations
  • United States Coast Guard
  • Department of Natural Resources
  • FEMA and Homeland Security
  • Support National Park Service
  • Support U.S. Forest Service
  • Sheriff and tri-county dive teams
  • Support county and state wide EMS

The waters of northeast Washington bring together, and join many diverse cultures and communities. The fire / rescue boat may serve this multitude of agencies and work across many jurisdictions.

Over the next few years we will continue to modify the boat with specialized equipment and new technologies that will assure an effective and capable addition to our fire preparation.  We will continue to develop a comprehensive marine safety program that includes all cooperating agencies. We will continue to provide new training opportunities, and practice to improve the skills and capabilities of our volunteers. This will assure that we effectively meet the needs of our communities and partners in marine safety for many years to come.

The Fire boat cost, and marine program expenses are currently supported entirely by Stevens County District 12 and its volunteers and their families. The Rice fire house, boat budget is starting to wear thin after the completion of our first year. We will continue to pursue grants and accept donations to complete our first “Fire Engine on the Water”

We want to express our appreciation to the District 12 fire commissioners, our volunteer fire fighters, and the community that supports us. We also want to mention the local fire districts, Stevens County EMS, and the many cooperating agencies for their time, input, and encouragement to continue and make this project a success.  A special mention goes out to Jim Darley at Darley fire pumps, and Dave Hewes along with the entire staff a Hewes Craft for truly inspirational help and timely support.

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