Spokane Valley Fire adds faster, bigger water rescue boat to the department

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — A new Spokane Valley Fire water rescue boat will soon be making waves. Every year firefighters get called to save someone in the water. With this new tool, they’re looking to make that happen faster.

Spokane Valley Fire only had one rescue boat in its arsenal. The boat was limited as to what it could do.

“The first boat that we got is a little bit smaller boat and we struggled to get from downstream up to where the potential incident is,” said Captain Ryan Van Wey, Spokane Valley Fire water rescue trainer.

Time is of the essence in their line of work, and this new boat will help fill in gaps missing from the smaller one.

Last year, Spokane Valley Fire got called out to 37 water rescues. At least one person died at Boulder Beach.

“We need to be able to have the ability to overcome certain obstacles in order to get to that incident,” Van Wey said.

This new boat, which the department recently got from a Priest Lake fire department, has 55 horsepower and is nearly 18 feet long. It can cover more distance in less time.

“If we get there faster, we’re going to make a difference,” Van Wey said. “It’ll be a lot stable and it’ll be a lot faster to move across those distances.”

Not only is it faster and bigger, but there’s more room to fit both rescuers and potential victims in this boat.

“This boat you can put 2, 3, 4 and add another couple victims, patients and still maintain the speed we need and the stability,” Van Wey explained.

It won’t stay in Spokane Valley. Van Wey said if it’s needed in Spokane, they’ll take it there to help whoever is in trouble.

Having two boats is essential. The smaller one can navigate shallow and slower water, while the new one can head to the deep end.

“We always work in teams and this will allow us to do that and move up and down the river,” Van Wey said.

Van Wey encourages everyone to practice water safety measures by wearing a life jacket. However, they’re dedicated to being there for you if you need help.

“This added ability when people might put themselves in less than favorable positions, it’s obviously a benefit to the community,” he said.

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