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Somerset Fire/Rescue adds rescue boat to vehicle fleet

Chris Terwedo, firefighter, sits at the helm of the Somerset Fire/Rescue department's newly-acquired G-3 boat, while Chief Travis Belisle looks on. The department was able to purchase it from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous for $5,500.

Somerset Fire/Rescue Chief Travis Belisle isn't kidding when he said his department's garage was packed.

Located behind one of their two engines is their newest acquisition: a 19-foot G-3 boat.

The boat brings the number of vehicles in the department's fleet to thirteen: two engines, two tankers, one rescue truck, one rehab/command vehicle, two brush trucks, one squad car, one medical truck, one ATV (Argo) and two boats.

Belisle said that a member of his department was approached by a person who wanted to sell them an airboat originally.

"It would have required two to three weeks of training in Florida or North Dakota, and for a volunteer fire department, that was too much time," he said.

He also said the maintenance of a vehicle with a Mercedes engine and airplane propellers would have been cost-prohibitive.

The donor then suggested selling them his other boat: the G-3 flat-bottom boat with a 90 horsepower engine.

At the time, the department had only the Argo -- a six-wheel ATV that can drive in the water -- and a small Zodiac boat.

Using it as a tax write-off, the donor asked for $5,500 for the barely-used boat.

"We jumped at the chance," Belisle said.

Although Somerset Fire/Rescue does not have a dive team, they are able to do cold-water rescues and swift-water rescues.

They were able to pay for the vehicle out of their savings account, and plan to outfit the boat with rescue lights and marine and regular radios sometime next year.

Until then, the boat is ready to use and, according to the members who have driven it already, runs really well.

"This is a great boat," said Chris Terwedo, firefighter. "It's perfect for what we need -- it has a flat-bottom and enough room to work in. Going from the (smaller) Zodiac to this is a big difference."

Belisle said that now that they have this boat, they want to put the word out to other rescue teams that it is available for calls.

In the meantime, he wants to expand the storage garage to accommodate the fleet.

"My goal is to put in a fenced area out back with a roof to secure this boat and maybe another vehicle," he said.