STILLWATER, MN – The Stillwater Fire Department has updated technology to better equip them for responding to emergencies.
It’s a new fire rescue boat to help with situations on the St. Croix River.
Stillwater Fire says during the weekends especially, there could be upwards of 10,000 people on the river. The department believes that if and when something goes wrong on the water, this boat will allow crews to do even more.
“It took about 18 months to build,” Stillwater Fire Chief Stuart Glaser said.
Glaser says they typically deploy a boat like this once a week for a variety of situations.
“A stranded boater, or a medical situation on an island, or somebody accidentally fell off the bluffs,” Glaser said.
The Stillwater Fire Department says this boat can do things that their previous boat couldn’t.
“We can actually get right up to the shoreline with it, and previously we’d have to stop, we’d have to jump out of the boat, literally trudge through the water to get up on the island,” Glaser said.
“For us having a boat to be able to get anywhere on the river is crucial for us,” Stillwater Deputy Fire Chief Tom Ballis said.
Ballis says they also have more advanced cameras onboard.
“We’re able to use that Fleer camera to not only pick up a visual image but also an infrared image,” Ballis said.
Plus, this boat has the ability to take river water right below them to fight fires.
“The water comes straight up here and out this electronic nozzle,” Glaser said.
As more and more boaters hit the water this year, this crew feels confident knowing they’re equipped to respond when they get the call.
“Hopefully, make a lot more rescues and saves with this piece of equipment,” Glaser said.
Stillwater Fire says other communities down the river will benefit as well, and they will use this boat for mutual aid calls when they’re needed.