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  1. #1
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    Default Fire Boat Research

    We serve a small (4-miles long) lake with approximately 500 homes on the lakefront, some with very poor road access. We are in the process of going out to bid for a new fire boat and the issue of a hovercraft keeps coming up. (since our lake does freeze over) - I would like to hear from anybody who has used such a beast, and hear the pros and cons... Please reply directly to me at: chief1301@comcast.net - Thanks!

    Rick Cokley
    Fire Chief
    Spokane County Fire Dist.13
    Newman Lake, WA


  2. #2
    It looks hot in there PureAdrenalin's Avatar
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    We have a hovercraft...it's useless..to be honest, you'd be better off buying a Boston Whaler with a deck gun and pump, and then improve your road access for winter conditions.
    'Adversus incendia excubias nocturnas vigilesque commentus est"

    www.vententersearch.com

  3. #3
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    Default Where/who

    Do you mind telling me where you are located and name of the department?

    Thanks, Rick

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber lrg500's Avatar
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    My dept. will be ordering a Harbor Guard fireboat tomorrow. We decided to go with them instead of a Boston Whaler.

  5. #5
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    Are you looking for a fire attack boat or rescue boat. I would assume that with the poor access to so many structures you are looking for some fire suppression capability. If so the hovercraft most likely will not work very well, or if you did get one for this it would need to be a huge craft. Hovercrafts do not have a very large payload and are not the best in open water. If you are looking for winter or ice/water rescue a hovercraft would work great, just be wary of the payload. We have two units for ice/water rescue and they work very well for us. They each easily transport a two man rescue team to locations it would literally take us hours to get to otherwise. They will travel at nearly 60mph and go from solid ice to open water and not slow down at all. For rescue application on ice or ice/water they are hard to beat. Training as with everything is the key to success.

  6. #6
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    Mostly looking for firefighting capability...Although some Ice/water rescue capability would be nice, from what I have heard so far, a hovercraft would br a poor choice since 3/4 of the year (or more) we are Ice free.

    RC

  7. #7
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    We have an Airboat we use for such purposes.You have limited firefighting capability(like 500 gpm max)but all year use for thin ice,water rescue,dive platform etc.If you decide to investigate this route,get a good sized boat(20' or bigger)get plenty of training and know the limitations of the craft.Also doubles as a ****ah PPV fan(leave it on the trailer).We considered a hovercraft but got a deal on the AB which has been a handy tool for the dept.Good luck on your quest. T.C.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber N2DFire's Avatar
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    You may want to talk with these folks - full marine fire company - no ground based appratus.

    http://www.smlv.com/fire/smlmvfc.htm

    These folks cover a very large lake that happens to border the county I run in - have talked with some of their guys and even taught FF-I to a couple and I can say that they are a top notch act that knows a thing or two about water based operations.
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
    Stephen
    FF/Paramedic
    Instructor

  9. #9
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    How about this one? I think that I remember hearing it will do 12,000 - 14,000 GPM and it goes through ice!
    Last edited by ChicagoFF; 03-18-2008 at 03:00 PM.
    I am a complacent liability to the fire service

  10. #10
    Forum Member backsteprescue123's Avatar
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    Default

    http://wtfd.net/

    A local department has I two of them I believe. They participated in a NIST study on the effect of PPV on High Rise Fires here in Toledo. Also present were FDNY, Chicago FD, etc.

    A quick search of the forums will turn up that thread.


    WTFD10 would be your man to talk to.
    ------------------------------------
    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
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  11. #11
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    We had a guy demo a hovercraft to us for several weeks. At the time I was the Chief of our county water rescue squad and paid firefighter.Our district is several state lakes, all about four miles around and covered to the front with homes. I think the hovercraft is useless, dangerous, and a maintenance nightmare if you use it alot. However we do not have ice issues like the other departments do.
    I am familiar with Smith Mountain Lake in Va and they have a full marine department. I think they are all ISO rated pumpers too.
    Another thing, Roanonke Island Fire service at Manteo NC had a nice marine pump unit for sale .It was a volkswagen diesel engine with a nice pump on it. They opted for a lighter pump unit because it was on a Whaler 18 footer. http://www.rivfd.org/ . If they still have it for sale get up with Richard, super nice guy.
    If you want mostly firefighting capabilities stay away from the dangercraft it is useless. Go with an airboat before that thing.

  12. #12
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by beargun View Post
    I think the hovercraft is useless, dangerous, and a maintenance nightmare if you use it alot.
    I'll have to disagree with 2 of your 3 statements...

    "Useless" Our area not only has ice but also low water situations. The western basin of Lake Erie is pretty shallow and westerly winds can push the water out very quickly. We have rescued numerous boaters over the last several years who were caught by "suprise" when the wind picked up and the water dropped and they were now sitting in mud. We are the first call for help by the USCG Station Toledo for these types of situations.

    "Dangerous" It is no more dangerous than any other piece of equipment if your operators have had proper training in it's uses and limitations. Also proper PPE is required. Our operators wear Mustang survival suits and full face snowmobile helmets.

    "Maintenance Nightmare" This is the one I can't disagree with! On 5 out of 6 calls, one of ours will be out of service when it gets back due to maintenance problems. Usually it's just some of the skirting needs to be repaired. Other more serious issues have been broken fan blades and cracked hulls. Both of our craft were donated but we have probably spent two to three times what they cost on maintenance and repairs in the nearly 10 years we've been operating them.

    Bottom line from our experiences is that there is no safer way of performing ice rescues than a hovercraft. Just like any other piece of equipment or apparatus, there are limits to what a hovercraft can do. For example a strong head wind makes for extremely slow going. However it is still better than the alternative of walking out on ice that has already broken through.


    Oh, and they work great as a PPV fan for large 1 or 2 story buildings as well.
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