The Houston Fire Department (HFD), Council Member Mike Sullivan, District E, Fire Fighters Foundation of Houston (FFFH) and The Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund today introduced the newest addition of the Houston Fire Department’s rescue equipment, a rapid response boat, during a press conference at Deussen Park. Acquisition of the new rescue boat was made possible through donations from the efforts of the FFFH and the Ike Fund.
The Houston Fire Fighter Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2006 and is the first foundation in Houston to provide non-governmental funding to Houston’s fire fighters. Every year it purchases tools, technology and equipment to firefighters – filling the gap between the needs of the HFD and limited government funding. They have contributed more than $300 thousand worth of equipment and supplies for HFD.
The rescue boat, built by Glenn Boatright, a local builder in the Kemah area is 22 feet long, 8.5 feet wide and has a 150 horse power motor. It cost $50,000 to build and equip. According to HFD Rescue Chief Bob Branch, the boat has been tested and can deliver up to 350- gallons per minute of water through a mounted deck gun, from a draft of 18 feet thru 10 feet suction hose and floating strainer.
“This boat will be primarily used as a rapid response boat for fires on the Lake,” said Branch. “It will be able to provide quick knock down with a piped deck mounted nozzle for pier, boat, grass or any fire along the water’s edge. It can be also used to create a water supply for land based firefighting.” It can also be used for boating accidents and water rescues.
The new boat will be assigned to HFD Station 65, located at 11531 FM 1960 East, 77336. HFD currently has 11 inflatable rescue boats, ten evacuation boats, one fire/rescue boat and six jet skies. Currently, HFD is working with the Houston Police Department (HPD) to house it at their facility on Lake Houston.
Council Member Mike Sullivan, says this boat will allow HFD to carry rescue and medical equipment more safely and more quickly to those who live on and around Lake Houston.
Throughout this month, firefighters are training with the boat and large portion of the rescue fleet to prepare for severe weather emergencies. HPD, Office of Emergency Management and Rescue are currently working on various landing points in the event of hand-off of patient’s to EMS units.
With Hurricane Season starting in less than a month, the IKE fund hopes this boat will help with any rescues that might come about due to tropical storms. Mayor Bill White named Albert Myres, senior vice president of government and public affairs for Houston-based Reliant Energy Inc., to lead fundraising efforts for the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund in September 2008.Myres also managed the Katrina/Rita Fund three years ago.
Additional hurricane safety information may be found on the HFD website at www.houstonfire.org
“As shown during Hurricane Ike, the men and women of the fire department work throughout the storm, putting their own lives on the line to ensure the safety of their fellow citizens,” said HFD Acting Fire Chief Rick Flanagan. “This generous donation will help to not only make sure we can reach citizens in a time of crisis, but also help to ensure we have the best equipment for our member’s safety and use.”