Hall County Fire & Rescue to Replace Marine Rescue One

The old Hall County Fire & Rescue boat ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland
The old Hall County Fire & Rescue boat: Marine Rescue One ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

If the red boat on the right looks like a ski boat, that’s because it was originally designed to be a ski boat before it became the Hall County Fire & Rescue’s primary emergency response vessel for Lake Lanier.  Honest.

That 23-foot, 2005 Yamaha with twin jet-propelled engines would have looked cool towing beauties and dudes on skis and tubes, but it was converted to Marine Rescue One instead after being purchased new by Hall County Fire.

You have to respect the ingenuity of the folks at Hall County Fire & Rescue.  They made the best of the conversion; for example, the original spine board positioned above the aft came in handy during rescue missions all around Lanier.

A decade later, the emergency craft had repairs bills equal to three times the boat’s worth, according to my conversation with Hall County Deputy Fire Chief & Great Guy Chad Black, who has been with the Hall County team for three decades.

Thanks to a wise vote from our pals on the Hall County Commission on March 23, 2015, funding for a replacement to our current ski/rescue boat was approved … but it won’t be REALLY approved until Friday.  Government at work.  You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.

Deputy Chief Black said, “A new Marine Rescue boat could be on the water in time for Memorial Day” at the end of May.  That’s when the lake really gets packed and accidents are more likely to occur.

The vessel they have their eye on is on the manufacturer’s production line.  That speeds up the process of spiffing it up for the very serious business of rescuing boaters, tubers and fisherpeople on Lake Lanier.  The 23-foot aluminum vessel will be equipped with one 250-horsepower outboard motor (instead of the far more expensive dual jet-powered engines).  Two of the special features (not offered on ski boats) are a door attached to the bow that allows rescue personnel to bring the boat closer to shore without grounding, and a dive door on the port side.

Please Note:  The port side is not the area of the boat near the wine, it’s the left side of the ship.  Unless you are looking at it from the prow, then it’s on the right side — also known as starboard.  Thank you.

Deputy Chief Black said, “This aluminum replacement could last 20-25 years,” and should be far more economical and dependable than the converted ski boat.  This isn’t trivia.  The current rescue vessel and its backup had a combined record of being in service only about 52% of the time in 2014.

Donna the Honda, my extraordinary Accord, hit 333,333.3 miles, which is equal to 4,166 hours on a boat. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland
Donna the Honda, my extraordinary Accord, hit 333,333.3 miles, which is equal to 4,166 hours on a boat. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

But, if you do like trivia, here’s some: Deputy Chief  Black said the current Marine Rescue One clocks about 440 hours of use annually.  That compares to the average of 30-40 for pleasure boats on Lanier.

To compare a boat’s total hours on the water to a car’s mileage is pretty easy.  Every boat hour is equal to 80 miles in a car.  So, the 4,000 hours on the craft that’s been in service for a decade, is equal to 320,000 miles on a car.

That’s a lot of miles.  I know.  My old car, Donna the Honda, hit 333,333 miles, but it didn’t float very well at all.

The emergency tasks done by our faithful friends at the Hall County Fire & Rescue — and other emergency responders on Lake Lanier and elsewhere in Georgia — aren’t a laughing matter.  They deal with life and death situations at a moment’s notice whenever they’re called.  They truly risk their lives to save others.

Many hundreds of visitors to Lake Lanier owe their lives to these brave men and women.  We are happy that they’ll have a new Marine Rescue One to serve us.

Thanks again to all who made this life-saving purchase possible.

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About Author

Robert J. Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life in Gainesville, GA.
Robert has two adult daughters, seven practically perfect grandchildren and a zippy Kawasaki. Contact Robert at [email protected].

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