NEW MARINE 1 – Christened with a splash of champagne

May 25th, 2018

By Anne Easker, Staff Writer - Charlotte Sun


Charlotte County Commission Chairman Ken Doherty smashed a bottle of champagne on the Fire/EMS Marine 1 rescue boat Thursday in a ceremonial dedication ceremony.

“I have seen a lot of changes with this department in the last 45 years I’ve been in this community,” said Doherty.

“This is just another example of how we’ve become so much more professional, how we can now serve all of our community — the boating community, the islands, and so forth.”

Commissioners joined the Fire/EMS Marine crew Thursday in celebrating the new boat, which will replace the old Marine 1 at Gasparilla Marina.

“The vessel has the ability to pump water at 1,500 gallons per minute,” said Chief Bill Van Helden. “We had a fire on a barrier island recently that had no access by ground fire trucks, and it was our Marine 1, the old one, that actually supplied water for the fire for a number of hours. We were the only ones able to do that.”

Battalion Chief Mike Clements said the Marine Unit typically responds to 10 to 15 calls per month. That might include fighting fires on the islands, emergency medical service, transporting patients from islands and the harbor, and providing a response to the U.S. Coast Guard as the nearest available unit.

“Obviously it’s a bigger boat,” Clements said. “It has a better capacity for putting out fires. It flows a lot more water. It’s a lot easier for getting people out of the water onto the boat for rescue.”

The $425,000 boat was paid for by the West Coast Inland Navigation District, with revenue from property taxes, and the Boater Improvement Fund, with revenue from boat registration fees.

An additional $12,000 in legislative funding covered a nighttime vision system called FLIR.

Although the boat cost $80,000 more than the previous Marine 1, it will cost much less to operate, according to Fire/EMS personnel.

“It’s a diesel engine, which will last longer, be more efficient,” said Clements.

The new boat is expected to last at least 20 years.

The old Marine 1 will now become Marine 2 and will be stationed at Laishley Marina.

Photos: Courtesty of Doug Coupar