City’s new rescue boat reports for duty

By David Dinell
Derby Informer – July 26, 2017

Capt. Matt Ludwig of the Derby Fire Department examines its new boat a few hours after it arrived and was inflated.

When the Derby Fire Department conducted rescue operations during heavy flooding last summer, it used its only vessel: an aluminum jon boat, which is made for placid ponds.

Now it has a boat that can handle all types of conditions, from still surfaces to swift moving water.

The department has just taken delivery of a 12.5-foot Inmar brand craft. Crews quickly inflated it, installed its floor and started breaking in its Suzuki 25-horsepower outboard engine.

Smaller versions of the model are designed for recreational use, but this version is not and is intended for heavy-duty jobs. It also has a variety of working features, including a self-bailing interior.

“You can completely swamp this boat and you can’t sink it if you have this flap down,” said Capt. Matt Ludwig of the Derby Fire Department as he showed a visitor how the boat, which is six feet wide, works.

The boat takes only three pounds of air to inflate and can fit into a carrying bag, but it will stay inflated, placed on a trailer and be ready to go at all times, he said.

The crew had to modify the existing trailer to make it work, but that was one of the few adjustments required.

The old 16-foot boat, which has served its purpose, will be sold after equipment has been removed from it.

It has been put into storage until later this fall.

“That boat is kind of obsolete,” said Ludwig, who has taken advanced water rescue classes in Oklahoma and works to train others in the department.

There are larger boats available, and the county has a 16-foot version of the Inmar boat, but this is the right size for the Derby department, Ludwig said, as it can be operated by only two crew members. The boat will hold six people, so two can go on a rescue and bring back four.

The price for the boat and engine was $6,056.

Donations added up to $8,521, so the department was able to also purchase water rescue equipment that included four sets each of dry suits, personal flotation devices, boots and gloves.

When the department started to seek donations last year, the Derby Community Foundation provided a grant of $1,500. An anonymous donor provided $1,000 and the Prilliman Trust added $200, but the major contribution was from Firehouse Subs, which provided a grant of $5,821.

“We can’t thank the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation enough for the generous donation,” said Fire Chief Brad Smith.

The Firehouse Subs founders established the foundation in 2005 with a mission of providing funding, life-saving equipment, and educational opportunities to first responders and public safety organizations. More than $304,000 has been provided in Kansas and it has contributed more than $25 million to first responders in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Canada.

Officials were appreciative of the fact that donors and grants came through for the purchase, which wasn’t in the city budget. Smith sees this purchase as more of a community effort as the new boat will be available for nearby cities, too, which is why he didn’t think it was fair to go back to the city and ask for tax money.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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