Rescue boat arrives in Cedar Key

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By Kellie Parkin

The Cedar Key Fire Department welcomed its newest addition last week with the arrival of Marine 75, a boat that will be used to rescue people on the water and fight coastline fires, according to Fire Chief Robert Robinson.

“We’ve been trying to get a boat for ten years,” Robinson said. “This will be great for our community.”

The boat rounds out the equipment needed for the Cedar Key Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department. The department can now respond to any kind of call - medical, maritime emergencies, wild fires, and multi-story structure fires, he said. The 12-ft boat features room for emergency responders and two backboards for rescued victims. If needed the boat can be manned by only one operator. Estimated speed of the boat is 50-55 mph. Marine 75 also features a water cannon that can pump water straight from the gulf at 750 gallons per minute. Jet-propelled technology will allow rescue personnel to get close to the injured without worry of propellers. Built by California company Madina Marine, the boat was used as a sales demo. With approximately six hours of use before the sale, the boat is still in like-new condition. A new model ranges in cost from $65,000 to $70,000. The choice to buy slightly-used saved the city of Cedar Key tens of thousands of dollars, Robinson said. The final price tag was just over $40,000, he said. “What we need people to understand,” Robinson said, “is that we’re not here to bring them gas or tow them in. We are here to rescue – our goal is to bring people to safety.” He added that the boat will not carry jumper cables, spare fuel, or a towing harness. The boat will enable first responders to cut down on response time, meeting accident victims half way instead of on shore, he said. For now the watercraft will be stored in a truck bay at the fire department. Due to low tide situations as well as varying locations of calls, Robinson said the boat will be more readily accessible stored on a trailer.

“No matter what water conditions are, or where the call is, we can get to it,” he said. Other advantages to keeping the boat out of the water include minimized salt damage, better security, and less financial obligation for storage. “It’s like everything else - you do things and find ways to do them better,” Robinson said.

“For now the boat is better in the station.” Robinson expressed his gratitude to the city commissioners, the CRA, and the citizens of Cedar Key for their support in backing the boat project.

“Without their support, we wouldn’t have this boat,” he said. Each of Cedar Key’s 11 firefighters will have the opportunity to train to use the watercraft, which includes taking an online course as well as intensive hands-on instruction. “Like all of our equipment, we hope we never have to use it,” Robinson said.