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New boat improves Thunder Bay Fire rescue capability (2 Photos)

Custom-made rescue boat carries navigational and sonar gear.

THUNDER BAY — The Thunder Bay Fire Rescue Service has received a significant upgrade of its ability to perform rescue missions on the water.

Its 20-year-old, five-metre-long zodiac has been replaced by a more powerful and better-equipped seven-metre-long rescue boat.

"This much more suits the conditions we can encounter in the harbour," says Deputy Fire Chief Greg Hankkio, noting that, even inside the breakwall, conditions on Lake Superior can get very rough at times.

The custom-made vessel arrived last Friday, and about 16 firefighters are currently being trained on how to operate it.

It's powered by two 150-HP  motors, compared with the old boat that had a pair of 40-HP motors.

But it's much more than the speed that elevates the fire department's capabilities.

The boat is also equipped with navigational equipment—meaning it can be operated more safely at night and in fog—and has side-side sonar to aid in underwater searches.

In addition, unlike the zodiac which only carried fire extinguishers, it has an onboard fire pump that can take water from the lake.

Water rescue instructor Paul Penna said "This increases our ability to help people. We'll have a much better response time, and this is safer to operate." 

The boat cost the city about $200,000.