Rescue boat on the way for Alberton Fire Depertment

·2 min read

The Alberton Fire Department will be able to help on the land and on the water in 2021, as a fundraising drive successfully raised about $ 100,000 for a new search and rescue ( SAR) boat.

Firefighters Jason Milligan and Darren Shea say the number of boats using the inland waterways, like the Montrose River and Cascumpec Bay, has increased dramatically in recent years.

“There’s a lot of traffic on the water here,” said Shea. “At any given time in the summer, July and August, you have up to 200, 250 boats — pleasure boats, anglers, kayakers — you could have kids jumping off Cascumpec Bridge, any given time in the spring and the fall, you could have up to 150 oyster fishermen working with their dories on their leases.

“There’s a lack of primary SAR up this way and it’s something that we feel we may be able to help respond to and might be able to make a difference,” said Shea, adding, “We’re hoping never to use it except in training.”

The fire department’s members have set their sights on a 6.5- metre ( 21.4- foot) rigid hull inflatable boat ( RHIB) and all the accessories like a 140- horsepower motor, trailer, navigation electronics and other search and rescue equipment like side- scanning sonar.

Water rescue is a new venture for the department, so members will need drysuits and helmets for the crew as well as boating training. Firefighters will need to obtain a small craft safety permit and VHF radio licences to help in the rescue boat.

“Any improved resources is going to help any call or any situation,” said Milligan.

FUNDRAISING

The department started with $ 15,000 in donations from community organizations on Monday, Dec. 14. The Town of Alberton, the Alberton Rural Fire District and the Tignish Credit Union each pledged $ 5,000.

Within five days, members of the community streamed through the fire department doors, at 10- minute intervals for COVID- 19 safety, offering financial support.

Only a handful of donations were under $ 500, said Milligan. “It’s going well,” he said.

The call for donations was so successful, Milligan said the department was able to meet its goal by noon on Saturday.

“We have some provincial government funding that we weren’t really able to announce we were approved for because it wasn’t finalized,” said Milligan. “Whenever the fundraising kind of took off like it did — it became so strong — we knew we were well within our limit ... so that’s why we decided to stop the campaign on Saturday.”

Alison Jenkins, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Journal-Pioneer