OLD FORGE, N.Y. — The Old Forge Fire Department is pretty excited about their new Fire Boat. Before now Chief Chris Stanley says they’ve been using a converted 1963 house boat that’s seen better days.
“Over the years things saw wear and tear, and you know things started to rot out, and we started to have a lot of mechanical issues and everything, and it just started to become a money pit,” Stanley said.
Firefighters are now getting trained on how the new equipment operates. One of the major benefits of this new boat is that it comes with a built in pump that allows for an endless supply of water. Old Forge Fire Department Lt. Richard Mathy explains the additional benefits of being able to boat right up to a structure and pump water right from the lake.
“There are a lot of camps on the water that driveways are very difficult to get a large truck down. Now we can just get a boat there immediately and start getting water on the fire right away,” he said.
The new boat is three times faster than the old boat shortening response times considerably.
“And it’s a lot easier to get people into this than it was the old boat,” Mathy added.
That’s because the front of the boat opens up allowing for easy access in and out of the water. It comes in especially handy for the Dive Team, something many fire departments don’t have.
“We are a very unique area. We have a lot of diverse needs.”
Old Forge Fire Department Chief Chris Stanley says the need for these services increased in Old Forge when social distancing requirements went on the rise.
“Water activities are definitely picking up. I mean COVID things were crazy up here. I mean there was more boats than we’ve ever seen on the water.”
The dive team generally has about a one hour window where they can resuscitate a drowning victim, but Lt. Mathy says finding them is their biggest challenge.
“You can get to areas where you don’t see anything until you’re about 2 feet above the surface of the bottom of the lake, and if you hit the bottom of the lake you’re immediately covered in dust and debris,” he said.
With response times dramatically cut the Chief says the community isn’t questioning the return on this $150 thousand investment, “I can’t ever remember the town being this excited for the fire department to have a piece of equipment.”