New rescue boat for North Lake Tahoe Fire

North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District's  new rescue boat docked at Sand harbor 7/20/20
North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District's new rescue boat docked at Sand harbor 7/20/20(Ed Pearce)
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 4:07 PM PDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 4:12 PM PDT
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INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. (KOLO) - Firefighters are our all-purpose first responders, expected to answer to all sorts of emergencies. But when your area of responsibility includes the largest alpine lake in the nation used every day by thousands, that list only grows more complex.

“EMS calls, evacuation of medical patients off our beach, vessels in distress,” says firefighter-paramedic Jake Fonken of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District. “We also assist with vessels taking on water.”

The district has long had a boat to respond to emergencies on the lake, but it was limited in its capabilities. No more. North Tahoe has a new 25 foot SAFE boat which they showed off Tuesday at Sand Harbor. The new boat is a step up in stability and performance, but what really sets it apart is its equipment.

“GPS capabilities, sonar for sub-surface search and rescue operations,” says Fonken. “It’s equipped with radar for improved nighttime operation as well as a forward looking infrared camera.”

That’s not all. The new boat has fire fighting capabilities.

“It has a steerable intake which means we’re able to pull water directly out of the lake into the fire pump and then it’s plumbed to the bow monitor at the front of the boat and we essentially have an unending supply of water for firefighting both near the shoreline and vessel fires.”

The new boat is the result of a donation by the Dave and Cheryl Duffield Foundation of Incline Village. Chief Ryan Sommers says the foundation reached out and asked if there was anything the fire department needed. “I was starting small and I was getting ‘That’s not what we’re here for’, so we asked for a boat.”

Tuesday was the media’s first chance to look it over, but it was launched weeks ago and has already been responding to emergencies.

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