I am in the search of a good used alluminum rescue boat, I am hoping for something like a "John Boat" flat bottomed. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas of where to look please let me know!!
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Thread: "Boat Search"
06-30-2001, 08:00 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jun 2001
- Cherryvale Ks
07-06-2001, 09:44 AM #2
- Join Date
- Jul 2001
- Hunterdon County NJ
I don't know if you have any particular boats in mind, but speaking as someone with over 35 years of experience with all kinds of boats, (dingys to trawlers) please look long and hard before you go with a "floating coffin" (Jon-boat) for a rescue boat.
Yeah - they're cheap and easy to move around, and most FD's have em, but unless they're extra wide, at least 16 foot long, have a higher than normal freeboard and are heavily constructed with lots of built-in bouyancy, they're nothing but death traps as far as I'm concerned. e.g. - It's way too easy to take water over the nose in these things. (And anyone who tells you "That doesn't happen to me - I'm trained!" hasn't been around very long.)
I'm sure there are many who would disagree with me on this, but I stand by my contention that Jon-boats have a very limited use in water-operations unles they're a special kind. At least 95% of the jon-boats I have ever seen on departments are of the type I would call unacceptible.
If you're heart is set on this style, do yourself a big favor and take a look at the jon-style offered by the company Safe-Boats. These are expensive, but they represent the kind of jon-type that I would feel comfortable with. Also - Carolina skiff makes an excellent flat-bottomed boat in glass, that is great for shallow water ops. Also, State or federal fish and wildlife divisions often use a wide, heavy metal flat-bottom jon-boat style that is constructed as I suggested above. You might ask if there are any of these up for sale in your area.
My personnal choice for shallow water ops would be an inflatable - either an RIB or the traditional Zodiac/Avon types. The potential for river debris to burst your bubble is always there, which is why I like the Safe boat so much, it's made of hard, closed-cell foam, not air. My all-time favorite rescue boats are Boston Whalers (Guardian series) and MonArks. These are two "tough mothers" that you just can't kill!
But whatever you decide, do your homework, talk to lots of people, esp those doing the kind of work you will do, and make sure it will be stable enough to hold the inevitable over-load of rescuers and victims that develops during flood evacuations, when you may have to take on a larger load than is advisable according to the capacity info.
Hope this helps
07-11-2001, 04:31 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jul 2001
As a current member of the American Power Boat Association Rescue Team,I can tell you that we only use either the 16ft Boston Whaler or the solid hull Zodiac inflatables.These craft provide the most stable platform to accomplish any,and all rescue operations on the water(either swift or standing)The Boston Whaler that we use has been modified so that there is a drop ramp at the front,this way a floating litter with attached backboard can be slid into the boat,and not over the gunwales.Also,I have seen where a Fire Company,who has to provide fire protection to several houses on an island,that has no land access. They mounted a 3inch water cannon to their Zodiac and supllied it thru a deck mounted portable pump.For the money I feel that the Zodiac is a very versital piece of equipment.However if your are going to be involved rescues where there is the possibility of floating debris,ie;swift water rescues,then I would recommend a Boston Whaler,or something with that hull type. Currently there is federal funds available for the organization,traning,and supply of a Swift Water Rescue Team available.Have you Township manager or your local OEM Offical look into it.Good Luck
07-11-2001, 06:43 PM #4
I would suggest deciding what your Dept really needs. There is a very big difference with regards to the boats needed to do water Evacs and swift water rescue. Evacs usually can be done safely with a flat bottom boat and ample horse power in slow moving water and minimul cross current. Rescue requires a boat with a more stable v-shape. I would suggest a Zodiac type boat with hard hull and inflatable ring. A great resource is The LA county fire Dept. they seem to have their stuff together when it comes to water evac/rescue.
07-15-2001, 05:24 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jul 2001
- Longmont, Colorado
Like many of the others here I would have to say that my personal opinion and that of my depts would be stay away from hard hull boats. My unit has been doing water work since 1956 and for only a very short period during the 1980's did we have a hard hulled boat. It was given as a donation, but we found it to be problematic for several reasons. The most dangerous of which seems to be to divers.
A diver who is ascending can very easily come into contact with the bottom of the craft. Smacking your head into the bottom of a hard hulled craft does damage to the diver.
While all of the zodiacs that we currently use have a hardwood floor, they are also covered with a rubber and air bladder. While I wouldn't want to be smacking my head into anything in particular, I think that I'd rather bump into a soft boat than a hard one.
Another point might be made against jon boats in swift water. They get hung up on rocks and strainers. While zodiacs can too, it is easier to get a zodiac off of an obstruction by merely shifting the weight of the occupants.
We just purchased a rescue raft (can't remember the manufacturer's name) that looks like a banana, but the ends are open at water level. This thing is killer! Pulling a incapcitated victim into the craft is very easy as compared to pulling them in over the gunnells of any other craft that we've ever used.
In order to have an effective technology, reality must take precedence over public relations. For nature cannot be fooled.
Dr. Richard P. Feynman
08-04-2001, 03:11 PM #6
- Join Date
- Jul 2001
I am with the Marine Services Bureau of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department in Miami, Florida. We are the largest fire department in the southeastern United States, with over 1,500 firefighters and paramedics. We have over 450 certified rescue SCUBA divers and over 650 rescue skin divers, as well as a multitude of various types of boats that we use for water rescue work.
Please feel free to contact me via email with your questions and concerns. I will be glad to help in any way I can.
Marine Services Bureau
Maimi-Dade Fire Rescue Dept."He who saves a single life, is said to have saved the entire world." TM
08-25-2001, 04:08 PM #7
Our department has two boats, a Rigid Hulled Inflatable and a Boston Whaler (the best of both worlds). Both vessels have very specific capabilities, and there are times when I wish I had one of those floating coffins too!
Based on my limited experience, I can mention some of the pros and cons for your consideration.
SOFT -vs- HARD BOTTOM
(PRO) Soft bottom boats can be folded up and easily transported on rescue apparatus. Usually less expensive that the RIB style.
(CON) Several years ago there was a flood where a local team used soft bottom inflatable. There was approximately 7-8 feet of water over most of the streets and when the boats traveled across the street signs, the bottoms were torn out.
(PRO) Puncture resistant and typically allow the vessel to plane and travel at a faster speed. Some fiberglass hulls are foam filled making them unsinkable, even when the sponson are deflated.
(CON) Typically more expensive than soft bottom. Cannot be folded up into a compact carrying bag.
(COMMENT) The idea of making a decision as to hull type based on a diver hitting his head on the hull while ascending is ludicrous. Ascending divers in BASIC dive courses are taught to look up, reach up, swim up; i.e., have a hand above their head during the ascent. If they hit their head on the bottom of the boat, maybe it will remind them of this basic skill.
INFLATABLE BOAT -vs- CONVENTIONAL HULL
(PRO) Typically less expensive than a conventional hull and has a variety of applications. Can be used in shallow water areas (less draft), in swiftwater applications, usually lighter weight so can be transported to remote locations more easily. Can carry tremendous loads due to the buoyancy provided by the sponsons. (Our 12' boat has a passenger capacity of 8 persons)
(CON) The sponsons can be punctured and emergency field repairs are typically not an option. It is difficult to mount equipment since you can't screw a bracket into an inflatable sponson. Everything needs to be hung off of or secured by "D" rings.
(PRO) Puncture resistant! If the vessel gets "holed" a two part epoxy can be used to make an emergency repair in the field. Equipment can be mounted for storage and ease of use considerations. The "hard hull" by its construction can withstand the abusive rescue environment.
(CON) Typically heavier than an inflatable and needs to be transported on a trailer. "V" shaped hulls may have a draft that prevents the vessel from being used in shallow water areas (wading is typically not an option in near freezing water).
Jon Boat -vs- The Others
(PRO) Very inexpensive and typically shallow draft and puncture resistant hull.
(CON) Low freeboard limits the load that can be carried on the vessel. It can swamp (fill with water/sink) more easily than a conventional vessel, hence the nick name of "floating coffin." Needs to be trailered like a conventional boat.
(COMMENT) The flat bottom boats with extremely wide beams are safer than the narrow beam models and have some application in water rescue.
While I have been fortunate to operate many types of boats, I think everyone will agree that the selection of the vessel has to be based on the environment that it will be working in. Our agency's 25' Boston Whaler might not work well in the streams and shallow rivers of our heartlands. Likewise, the flat bottom John Boat would not work well in areas where we do offshore rescue work.
Like the original person who made this post did, I would learn the pros and cons of each vessel, speak to persons who have experience in the field of water rescue, carefully evaluate the conditions that my team is expected to operate in, and purchase a vessel based on knowledge, recommendation, and analysis of the risk/benefit factors paying particular attention to rescuer safety.
I'm sure there are others who can offer some comments too. One of the things that hasn't been mentioned is the use of PWC's. Maybe this would make for an interesting Firehouse Magazine article!
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