Alberton fire department aims to raise $100K for rescue boat

·2 min read
Alberton Fire Department/Facebook
Alberton Fire Department/Facebook

The Alberton fire department is raising money to buy a fire boat to use during water emergencies.

Fire chief Shannon Dumville says there have been 50 per cent more water-related emergency calls where a boat is needed in the last two to three years, and the department could respond more quickly if it had its own boat.

"We've seen a very sharp increase in boat traffic, especially in and around Cascumpec Bay, Northport area," Dumville told CBC Radio: Island Morning host Mitch Cormier.

"We feel as though we need to do something better, to be better equipped."

He said the department believes Islanders whose travel was curtailed this summer opted instead to buy watercraft — everything from party barges to powerboats.

Currently, the department has volunteers who are fishermen who will lend their boats in an emergency, and the community is always quick to offer help, but it's not the same, Dumville said.

Seeking donations of any size

The department is aiming to raise $100,000 for a rigid-hull inflatable boat with a 140-horsepower outboard motor that would seat three first responders and is equipped with proper suits, helmets, life vests and electronic communication and navigation tools.

The craft needs to be very stable so that personnel can go out in rough weather, he said.

Some of the funds being raised will go to better train firefighters for water rescues.

Alberton would be the first community in the area to add this kind of vessel to the tools in its fire hall, he said — Summerside's boat is the closest currently.

Dumville wouldn't speculate as to whether having such a boat at hand would have helped improve the outcome of a boat capsizing in September that claimed the lives of two local teens, Ethan Reilly and Alex Hutchinson.

Up to half the money already raised

So far they have raised between 30 and 50 per cent of the money they'll need for the boat, he said.

Local municipalities, the credit union, the firefighters' club and other groups have made contributions, and Dumville said they are in talks with the province for funding too.

They hope to put the boat out to tender as soon as possible in hopes that the boat can arrive by June 2021, Dumville said. There are a couple of companies in Nova Scotia that build this type of vessel.

They're seeking donations via the Alberton Fire Department Facebook page.

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