I am penning this letter in response to a recent council meeting I had the opportunity of attending dealing with the budget.
The fire chief had informed the council and public the fireboat Buster “B” was “not seaworthy or safe to operate”. He also said “it should never have been in the water, set up the way it’s set up”. This was in reference to having two right-handed propellers. At one point, a councilor questioned the chief on this and the response was to inform council and public that he was the expert who had deemed the boat unsafe and again cited the two right-handed props.
I was very surprised with these statements since the boat had been in use for over 25 years, so I looked into the validity of these statements and the history of this vessel.
The recently retired deputy fire chief – Bonar Beach in 1990, originally reconditioned the boat. It originally had a 90hp motor with a spare 90hp Evinrude motor stored at #4 Fire Station. The boat didn’t get up on plane very easily when loaded so the department looked for alternatives. It was researched and the remedy identified was to equip the vessel with twin 70hp motors. Around 2000, the Elks graciously donated these motors and the boat was again in service. In 2012 the hull of the boat was reconditioned making it lighter and more maneuverable. The boat has been actively in service since, complete with fire pump and both Canadian and U.S. adapters. A more accurate number of marine responses would be: 172 marine responses in the last 15 years, 63 in the last 5 years and 16 in the last 27 months.
As for seeking an expert opinion Transport Canada – Marine Division (604 666-0445) Andy Allan said there was absolutely NO regulation rendering a boat unsafe because it has two propellers turning in the same direction. Just to be sure the Ontario Marine Safety Inspector Brian Kennedy (290 241-5194) confirmed this, finding it odd anyone would make such a statement. He said the chief could call a marine safety surveyor should he wish the boat inspected. This is the link to the list of marine surveyors: http://www.pcmarinesurveys.com
It was explained to me that two props have much better control and performance than one prop. Two props turning in opposite directions have even better performance.
I believe scuttling our Marine Division for a savings of $2,500.00 per year because two propellers turn the same direction would be putting our community at considerable risk! In the last 2 years alone, we have spent tens of thousands of dollars for swift water training – going to shore based rescue as recommended would render all this equipment and money worthless to the community. We would be relegated to throwing ropes from the shore – a far cry from what our Marine Division is now capable of. Many of our marine calls are from either the police or the Coast Guard – please consult them as well.
We have fishing in our rapids, we have boaters in the river, we have fishing in the river, we are looking at a deep sea harbor and poker run opportunities, yet we are proposing a mere shore-based rescue! Please for the safety of our citizens and the progression of our community, reconsider this reduction in service!
Thank you for your attention to this matter!