The wait is over
by Lisa Tome
That's how Charlestown Fire Chief Gary Bott described company members - Mike Walsh, George Stanko, and Ronnie Daniels.
For 16 years that trio has worked to find funding, create specs, and obtain a new rescue boat for the fire company. Likely, this week that plan will come to fruition. On or about Thursday, the new boat will be delivered to the company from where it was built in Kingston, Canada.
The vessel has a 32 foot hull (36 feet with motors), twin 350 horsepower outboard motors, a 2000 gallon per minute fire pump, side scan sonar which can be used to detect explosive devices, and more. It can haul four personnel and one patient in a litter. It is also equipped with climate control and a generator.
Chief Bott explained that it will be used for boat fires, water rescues, and the sonar can help locate drowning victims. "The side scan sonar is the newest thing. It can assist police with homeland security. This vessel has a broad range of the latest technology. It is really state of the art," said Bott.
The boat cost $635,000. Of that, $476,000 is coming from a federal grant. That leaves $159,000. "We asked the state for a $50,000 grant. We've heard that looks good," said Bott. That will leave $109,000 left to be funded. The boat likely won't qualify as part of the apparatus replacement program provided through Cecil County.
The committee leaders, Daniels, Walsh, and Stanko were in Canada last week for acceptance testing of the boat. "They've been like a dog on a bone for 16 years," he said.
"Everybody's really excited about it. We are really satisfied that 16 years of work paid off. It hasn't been in vain. (Former) Delegate Rudolph helped a lot. And Delegate Hornberger picked up with that. We had a lot of support on the community level," said Bott. Charlestown officials, the Department of Emergency Services, and the Cecil Sheriff's Office also wrote letters of support for the grant. "The Coast Guard supported us," Bott said.
If the delivery goes as anticipated, the boat will appear in Saturday's 125th Anniversary of the Maryland State Firemen's Association parade in Port Deposit. The parade begins at 2 p.m. on Main Street.
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