By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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East Jefferson Fire Rescue announced the name of its new firefighting boat on Wednesday afternoon as about 40 people gathered at the dock at the end of Taylor Street in Port Townsend for the boat’s christening.
“This signifies a dedication to the improvement of service in our community,” said Port Townsend Mayor David King. “We have a navy now.”
The new 33-foot-long, 10-foot-wide boat built by Lee Shore Boats of Port Angeles, which makes custom aluminum boats, replaces Volunteer, a 22-foot boat also built by Lee Shore Boats.
Volunteer, built in 2001, will be moved to the Cape George marina, where it will provide search-and-rescue services in and around Discovery Bay.
The $455,000 boat was funded with a 2011 Department of Homeland Security port security grant.
Bill Beezley, fire department spokesman, managed the acquisition of the grant and was lauded for his efforts by all three speakers on Wednesday: King, Fire Chief Gordon Pomeroy and fire department Commissioner Rich Stapf.
“Over the last 18 months, Bill has made sure that the product you see here that got delivered turned out to be what it is, which is an awesome piece of machinery,” Stapf said.
“I don’t think we would have this piece of equipment today without Bill’s due diligence.”
Fire Department commissioners chose the name from a list of about 30 offered by fire department personnel.
Beezley gave the list to each fire commissioner and asked for their top five preferences.
Four of the names — Guardian, Sentinel, Beacon and Monitor — appeared one or more times and the commissioners selected Guardian.
Powered by twin Yamaha 250s, the Guardian vessel reached 46 knots — more than 50 mph — in a recent sea trial.
A Kodiak 5.7-liter, 330-horsepower V-8 engine, coupled with an American Turbine Jet SD309, makes the boat capable of pumping 1,250 gallons per minute at 125 pounds per square inch or up to 3,000 gpm at 50 psi, Beezley said.
The firefighting pump engine also can output thrust from the stern of the vessel, providing a speed of up to about 6 knots.
That allows operators to shut down the outboards and maneuver only with the thrust from the pump engine when retrieving people from the water to eliminate a chance of injury from the propellers, Beezley said.
An extended cabin and casualty bench offers a place for treating patients while underway.
In the last five years, the fire department has responded to 48 water rescues and six marine craft fires, Beezley said.
King said he has confidence in the fire department, which covers Port Townsend and the unincorporated communities of Cape George, Chimacum, Irondale, Kala Point, Marrowstone Island and Port Hadlock.
“I never want to hear fire engines coming my way but when it happens, I am conflicted,” King said.
“I hope it isn’t anybody I know, but I’m really glad that our fire department is responding because I have great confidence in their expertise and dedication to service.
“Maybe by December, we can look into having Santa arrive by boat,” King said, referring to the annual visit during the holiday season.
Once, arrival by boat was traditional in Port Townsend but in recent years, Santa has traveled in a fire truck or other land-based vehicle.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.