Huntington fire department gets new firefighting vessel - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Huntington fire department gets new firefighting vessel

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The Huntington Fire Department’s new firefighting vessel is named in honor of two firefighters who died while trying to save three boys on the Ohio River in 1948. The Huntington Fire Department’s new firefighting vessel is named in honor of two firefighters who died while trying to save three boys on the Ohio River in 1948.
By JAMES E. CASTO
For The State Journal

The Huntington Fire Department has added a new firefighting vessel. Mayor Steve Williams says the boat is the only one of its kind within 100 miles.

The city received a $569,100 federal Port Security grant to purchase the state-of-the-art boat, which will serve as a regional response vessel along the 64-mile stretch of the Ohio River between the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam at Gallipolis, Ohio, and the Greenup Locks and Dam at Greenup, Kentucky. This portion of the Ohio River is part of the Port of Huntington Tri-State, the largest inland port in the United States.

In a dedication ceremony May 22, the vessel was named for two members of the Huntington Fire Department, Lt. Leonard Hartz and firefighter William Ernest Booth, who died while trying to save the lives of three young boys in a tragic accident on the Ohio in 1948. The May 22 ceremony marked the 66-year anniversary of the accident.

Williams hailed the acquisition of the boat, saying it filled an important gap in the emergency defenses of not just Huntington but also the entire region along the river.

“The amount of commerce that is shipped on the Ohio River through our city has millions of dollars in impact on the Tri-State region,” Williams said. “It is imperative that our Fire Department be equipped to properly protect our waterways from any fire, hazardous spill or other catastrophic event.

“Our city’s greatest unprotected risk has now been removed.”

The nearly 36-foot boat has a top speed of about 35 knots or 40 miles per hour. It has three water cannons, foam capability and a sealable cabin that will enable it to operate in chemical, biological, explosive and radioactive emergencies. It has radar, sonar, on-board night vision and thermal vision cameras and an EMS work area with patient bench.

The department was required to match the federal grant with a $127,000 in-kind contribution. Bryan Chambers, the city’s communications director, said the in-kind contribution will be covered by money spent on training and fuel for the new boat.