New 'bat boat' speeds rescue time, saves lives

15 Sep 2000 | Sgt. Sharon G. Angell

Fire Station Number 3 here recently received its very own "bat boat" to replace three of the old fire/rescue boats. The new boat was on display for members of the Military Civil Task Force for Emergency Response Sept. 7 at the Officers Club.

The MCTFER is a military and civilian task force that was created in August 1998, and has been continually improving the relationship of Marine Corps Base, Onslow County and the Jacksonville community.

The new high-speed, low-drag boat is capable of managing boat fires, brush fires and even dock fires, according to Col. Mark T. Goodman, assistant chief of staff for Installation Security and Safety Department, Marine Corps Base.

"This boat can pump 500 gallons of water per minute up to 500 feet in the air with its hose attached or it can shoot 700 gallons of water per minute with a three-inch hose on it," said Goodman. "This can cover small brush fires that trucks can not get to or fires out on boats that the other rescue boats can not get to in time."

The new fire/rescue boat has a pump on board instead of having to bring one along, so it can pump water straight from the river without needing additional supplies, said Goodman.

"We have an unlimited water supply. We could pump New River dry," said Goodman.

With all the bells and whistles, this new boat replaces three other boats that were becoming too high maintenance because the motors were going bad and not serving their purpose anymore, according to Goodman. It was also purchased because of its speed. The boat can leave Gottschalk Marina and arrive at New River Air Station Marina in 5 minutes 43 seconds, according to Goodman. By using conventional jet ski technology, the boat can travel up to 60 miles per hour and carry two patients and a crew of two, he said. The speed and maneuverability's of the new boat enables it to cover the area of three boats in the same amount of time and it can rescue two people from the water, said Goodman.

Because of its location at Fire Station Number 3 where the new boat will be easily accessible in the event of a fire.

"If they (area Onslow County fire departments) need it, all they do is call our 911 center and we can help them if it is to save lives, prevent great destruction or anything like that," said Goodman.

"I think this is going to add to the mutual aid capabilities of the Camp Lejeune and Onslow County emergency response squads," said Doug Bass, Onslow County Emergency Services director.

From the city stand point, it will have little affect on the area houses or buildings near the water, but if needed, the fire department will ask for assistance in fighting fires, according to Rick D. McIntyre, chief of Jacksonville Fire Department.

Camp Lejeune's new floating fire-fighting tool is going to be the inter-coastal waterway boat for Camp Lejeune, New River Air Station, and Onslow County and is expected to greatly reduce response times and enhance the capabilities of the fire department.