Gulfport firefighters train on new 30 foot fire boat

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Fire Department has a new 30 foot boat, thanks to a grant from BP. The vessel was built in Seattle and delivered this week.

The new fire boat will be able to respond to emergencies out front and in the back bay waters.

"It's a 30 foot Argus search and rescue fire boat," said deputy chief James Donlin, "We were lucky enough to get it as part of the BP grant money."

Firefighters gave the new boat a test run on Gulfport Lake Wednesday. The vessel is a welcome addition to the department's equipment inventory.

"With more boats out front checking on the oil and everything, there's a better chance of having accidents and boat fires and things like that with all that's going on out front. So, we really felt the need for it," said Donlin.

"Once you get there, you're gonna want to come back," said Don Art, who was training firefighters on the new equipment.

Art works for Northpoint Marine, but he's also a retire fire chief who was more than happy to train Gulfport firefighters on the vessel's capabilities.

"You're always going to see water pressure on this when you're going," he said, pointing to the control panel.

Firefighters quickly made a mission of recovering a rusty propane tank from the lake.

"You could get within ten feet," chided one fireman.

They teased their buddy behind the wheel for not getting close enough.

"You ain't gonna bump it!" said another.

"It's gonna take some training on it. Getting used to it, it's got a lot of different functions on it. It's going to take putting some hands on it and getting experienced," said firefighter Tot Burkhalter.

Along with accompanying the dive team to search and rescue missions, the boat has impressive firefighting capabilities. And not just for putting out boat fires.

"If we had a fire at one of these structures on the bay back here, it's capable of supplying 3,000 gallons a minute at 50 psi. So, we could actually supply two pumpers on the back of one of these buildings, just like a hydrant," deputy chief Donlin explained.

A 30 foot boat like that, fully equipped, normally sells for upwards of $300,000. Seattle-based Northwind Marine gave the fire department a deal. The boat cost BP just $200,000.

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