The Scottsboro Fire Department is now in ownership of a fire boat. The boat was delivered Wednesday, according to Fire Chief Gene Necklaus.
Necklaus said the boat 21 ½ feet long with a fire pump up to 500 gallons per minute. The total cost was $61,000.
Necklaus said the boat has a top speed of 45 miles per hour, and it will be outfitted with GPS and underwater sonar equipment.
“After several weeks of training and familiarization, the boat will be housed at Firehouse #2 for quick access to the City Park and Goose Pond boat launches,” said Necklaus.
He said Scottsboro city limits touch 17 miles of navigable river channel and over 3,000 acres of lake. Marinas at Goose Pond and City Park house 300,000 square feet of coverage boat storage and more than 400 private boathouses are estimated on water.
“We have discussed the need for a boat for years,” said Necklaus. “The unfortunate reality is sometimes it takes a tragic event to realize a true need. That may be the case here, but I credit the mayor and city council for stepping up and giving us the best chance at stopping another tragedy.”
On Jan. 29, just after midnight, one of the state’s worst fire events of the last 50 years occurred at the Jackson County Park Marina. Eight lives were lost, and 35 boats destroyed. The fire department, Scottsboro Police Department and Scottsboro-Jackson County Rescue Squad were able to save several people from the water. The cause was labeled as “undetermined” by the State Fire Marshal.
“I can’t sit here and say if we had this boat then that it would have prevented those deaths,” said Necklaus. “In fact, I actually don’t believe it would have. But those deaths, and that event, as horrible as it all was, no doubt led to finally getting water response capabilities.”
Necklaus said the water is one of Scottsboro’s biggest natural assets that creates an economic force in the community.
“So not only do we owe it to our citizens to be able to serve them anywhere, including on the water, but it is a fiscally responsible move to be in the best position we can to protect our lake and our boaters.”
Firefighters have completed boater operation courses and will be training on water rescue and marine firefighting. The fire department is also working closely with Guntersville Fire Department to build operating procedures and schedule regular joint training exercises.
Guntersville has had marine fire operations for over 10 years and assisted Scottsboro during the marina fire through their mutual aid agreements.
Necklaus said mutual aid agreements allow neighboring fire departments to share resources and personnel during large events. He added that Scottsboro’s boat will be available to Jackson County departments along the river and south into Marshall County.