Council Uneasy About Purchase of New Fire Boat

The purchase of a new fire boat with grant money left some councilors uneasy.


The North Kingstown Fire Department outlined how it plans to spend $832,000 in grants to the Town Council Monday night, including upgrades to equipment, communications and training. One item on the list, however, left some councilors uneasy.

The biggest ticket item is a new fire boat, costing $681,000. The new unit would replace the current boat, which is 22 years old. According to the fire department’s marine committee, the service life of that boat is 30 years. This is the first time the department will purchase a new boat in more than 40 years. In recent years, every replacement boat has been donated to the fire department.

M2-37 Firefighting System is equipped with advanced life support equipment and is considered a chemical biological radiological and nuclear response vessel to help protect the growing Port of Davisville.

Between Davisville, now the fifth largest auto importer port in North America, and the countless marinas dotting the North Kingstown coastline, the marine committee stated that the boat is much needed in efforts to ensure safety on NK’s coast and boost response time.

According to Deputy Fire Chief Scott Kettelle, the new boat would help avoid situations like one back in 1989 when three firefighters were injured responding to a person in the water off of Jamestown. The incident occurred in January and the firefighters suffered from severe hypothermia while one suffered a permanent injury due to the cold temperatures.

“The new equipment will help to protect the bay, the commercial vessels, boaters, beaches and shoreline effectively and safely for years to come,” the report stated.

Though the grant money would cover the cost of the boat and maintenance for five years, Councilor Kerry McKay felt that the boat may be a financial burden down the road.

“To me, it looks like a gift that is going to cost the town money down the road,” said McKay, who added that this boat would be “fantastic” to boost safety on the water.

Additionally, Councilor Richard Welch added that the new boat is "very technical" and its state-of-the-art jet drive may be more susceptible to problems and maintenance issues than previously anticipated.

The NKFD estimates the boat will cost about $2,600 annually with an average of 500 hours of service.

The Asset Management Commission had its doubts regarding the piece of equipment and its subsequent cost to maintain. According to the commission, it “is not unreasonable to assume that for an asset like this, 10 percent of the purchase price would be required annually for maintenance; approximately $70,000.”

The commission also worried that the boat would require additional personnel, despite the fire department’s assurances that would not be the case. Additionally, they stated that nearby communities have similar assets that are not in use due to lack of availability of spare parts.

The $832,000 grant comes from the Department of Homeland Security’s Port Security grant fund.

According to Fire Chief Fenwick Gardiner, the boat is expected to be delivered later this year. 

NK_Voter January 31, 2013 at 08:35 PM
Didn't say they were, Rhodey! Please read the comment again. And there are no free "grants." Your federal taxes go up to pay for these 'free' items, and frankly, I pay enough today. While on the subject of unnecessary costs, and since you brought it up, has the town's fire-fighting needs suffered with the change in schedule/personnel? Facts, please--not opinion. Because if our needs are being met with the existing personnel--who are, no doubt, happy to have a job in these times--I'm wondering why, as an "informative" taxpayer, you'd want an additional 15 people sitting around on your dime with little else to do....
William Krupke February 01, 2013 at 12:18 AM
Facts are wrong, there have been survivors.
William Krupke February 01, 2013 at 12:21 AM
See what the lag time is for a Coast Guard boat from Castle Hill or Point Judith to arrive on scene in North Kingstown? Seconds count when someone is in the water!
William Krupke February 01, 2013 at 12:23 AM
I think the facts here are incorrect regarding jumpers off of the Newport or Jamestown bridges.
William Krupke February 01, 2013 at 12:26 AM
This fire boat will be an asset to the Town of North Kingstown for many years to come.
NK_Voter February 01, 2013 at 02:10 AM
Didn't say they would, Rhodey! Please read the comment again. And since you brought it up, please enlighten us on the shortfalls in Fire coverage that the town has suffered under the new FF schedule. Facts, not opinion please. Because if the current coverage is doing the job, I'm curious why you, an "informative" taxpayer, would want to hire 15 other people to sit around on your dime....
seed and soil February 01, 2013 at 02:15 AM
http://www.mrctv.org/videos/ed-asner-narrates-tax-rich-animated-fairy-tale Firefighters, teachers, police officers....take a peek at this short video. It cuts right the the chase of why we suffer the debates of the day.
Stanley Martin February 01, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Show me the facts? I've never heard of a survivor from the middle section of the Newport Bridge.
Concerned Resident February 02, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Guessing that seed and soil works as a public employee.....do you really care about the average person struggling to get by. RI resident’s fortunate and less fortunate alike, as all is public information - compare public employee's pay and benefits to private industry asking yourself where your tax dollars are really going.
Stanley Martin February 02, 2013 at 06:43 PM
It's not that public employees pay went up its the rich private companies that pay their workers crap... I thought that video was pretty spot on.
Concerned Resident February 02, 2013 at 08:35 PM
Ok Stanley, since you seem to be in the know I would like you to enlighten me and many others. How 'bout we start with retirement and work backwards shall we...... Curious as to how public employee pension and private aka SS pensions compare? Curious as to how public employee health insurance and private aka medicare benefits compare?
Stanley Martin February 02, 2013 at 08:50 PM
I've stopped listening to your garbage a long time ago CR. Not gonna waste my time with the rich republicans fearful of losing their millions...
Concerned Resident February 02, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Yep, as much as I figured when you are presented with any that will prove you wrong you run away......talk about garbage! Look forward to you campaigning for higher taxes to pad your pay, benefits and pension. Enjoy!
Govstench February 02, 2013 at 10:43 PM
While this is all wonderful to get a boat with grant funding, but the bigger question that should be asked is what the annual maintenance going to cost the town? Many of these boats do sit in drydock over the winter for maintnenace. I would ask how many rescues requests are made for water rescue in a year? If it is under 10, then I would question the need for the boat. Your dealing with tight budgets and people out of work, losing their homes. Unfortunately, it looks like we will have to revisit those years (30's to the 50's) when none of these vessels were available. What did people do then with water rescues? Call the Coast Guard and hope. While having this kind of boat is nice, I question how the maintenance will be funded.
Somewhere out there February 03, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Seriously, you think they'd put a regular pump in a BOAT? Oye.
Pam February 03, 2013 at 07:13 AM
Story in the projo said the previous boat was used for 58 hours last year. Lets do the math on that one.
seed and soil February 03, 2013 at 03:01 PM
no not a public employee....and it is exactly my concern for the average person struggling to get by that caused me to post the video. The comparison of private to public is important. Privates are compensated under value as they are employees of the ever growing, ever bloated top 1%.
TaxPayer-2oo February 03, 2013 at 03:25 PM
There are so many unsupported opinions here I don't know where to start! Does anyone know the USCG's mission capabilities? Have any of you ever conducted a search on the bay or open water? Who owns or even knows what a jet drive looks like or how it works? Did you all miss the 5 year warrantee the rescue boat comes with? Let's start with that.
Concerned Resident February 03, 2013 at 03:41 PM
First I'm not sure how your video applies to this blog. Second I do not agree with any business taking advantage of any employee. Third as I'm not saying you are incorrect on all points but I'll ask what would you do if you owned a business - Would you hire more than you required? Would you pay wages and benefits that you could not afford? OR would you do both and raise prices? What would you do when your city, state and federal government raise your taxes? Where do you think such taxes are going? How would you feel if you had employee’s that were in a union dictating what is and isn’t acceptable to them? What would happen if you priced yourself out of the market? With regards to this blog, should the town take taxpayer money to buy something that will cost the town more money that the town does not have thinking that the town can just raise taxes affecting residents and businesses alike? Hope the town breaks this cycle.
cheeeze February 03, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Question 1: Coast Guard's missions include life safety, port security, and many areas of law enfrorcement(drugs, boating safety, etc. Station Castle Hill is responsible for the entire stretch of Narragansett Bay and so many miles out in RI Sound. Question 2: Yes, I have conducted many searches in the Bay, Sakonett River, and RI Sound; above and below the surface. Lots of current and as most of us know, mother nature can turn things around pretty quick. All too often, that's when most get in trouble and require personel and equipment going out in less-than-ideal conditions. Question 3: A jet drive is nothing more than a large, high-power pump. Sea water is drawn in through the bottom of the boat and discharged through a directional nozzle proppeling the boat. Great for shallow water and diving operations as there are no exposed propellers. Some fire boats can even use a diverter valve to turn the jet drive into a fire pump. The valve turns 90% of the jet drives output into a firefighting stream and the remaining 10% maneuvers the boat. Saves money buy not requiring a second diesel motor and pump assembly. This entire assembly os usually made of stainless steel and bronze, making them less prone to corrosion.
TaxPayer-2oo February 04, 2013 at 02:22 AM
So cheeze, you have a good grasp on the operations of a SAR and the operation of a jet drive boat unlike most of the people who chimed in above us. My main point was and still is people should educate themselves before posting comments. So I am sure with your statement of the USCG's large area of coverage you see the reason for multiple rescue vessels. Also that jet drives require much less maintenance than conventional shaft and prop. So for someone to say NK does not need a rescue boat is just plain stupid! Thank you for posting something intelligent on this matter of safety to not only NK boaters but also boaters who choose to cruise through the southern portion of the bay.
Troy Boddington February 04, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Doesn't the NKFD have a Maintenance division consisting of 2 mechanics? They could perform the maintenance on the new boat, all the stuff that is not covered under the warranty like bottom paint, fluids, cleaning etc. I'm sure it wouldn't cost as much as everyone thinks
TaxPayer-2oo February 04, 2013 at 02:56 AM
Troy that is 100% correct. But the so called marine expert at the last TC meeting presented a PMS quote that did not include that fact. Therefore people are stuck on the inflated proposal they heard not the truth. Thank you also for your educated post.
Stanley Martin February 04, 2013 at 03:15 AM
Taxpayer-200, I am well aware of these boats... FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE... They suck and will only cost more and more money. They breakdown too often, they arent made well, pumps corode, Put the money elsewhere.. No one can answer my question. We already have four of these in the bay, why do we need five? They all chase the same calls.
TaxPayer-2oo February 04, 2013 at 03:36 AM
See here is some hog wash! Stanley name one FD that has a Moose boat. As far as corrosion, your car corrodes. Does it suck? All of the CG boats have pumps as does every emergency vessel on the water. Why does the bay need another boat, so no other community gets stripped of their safety coverage to cover the area delighted to the NKFD. Or how about we let someone in distress wait 30 min or longer for EP to come down. Sound like a great idea Stan
BayBoater February 04, 2013 at 04:50 AM
TaxPayer-2oo, I'm sure that the Moose boat will be better than the boats owned by the northern municipalities, but to insinuate that someone in distress on the bay will have to wait an extra 30 minutes for EP to provide assistance is disingenuous. If you have any idea how public and PRIVATE entities respond to real distress in NK waters, you know that real distress on Narragansett Bay gets an amazingly effective response from all entities.
Stanley Martin February 04, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Last I checked my car doesn't cost 900k and I don't drive it in the water. Nice comparison. What makes a moose boat any different than providence, Cranston, EP and warwicks boats? NOTHING
TaxPayer-2oo February 04, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Oh BB I guess you missed the last two distress calls that were both in the area of the J-bridge. Warwick was sent on both and their response time was well into the 20+ min range. Let alone anyone farther north! As far as those "PRIVATE" entities (i will not mention their name) unless you are a member good luck unless you are sinking or aground. Their sole interest is towing and salvage. Their captains are at best CPR certified and are not interested in any medical life saving procedures. Plus the last I checked the one on duty captain would have to respond from home to the one lonely boat sitting at their dock. How long would that take?
TaxPayer-2oo February 04, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Stan guess you missed the phrase 100% federal grant. Or better said no cost to the town. I know now u are going to say you fed tax is high enough but as stated before a study was done (by the fed gov) and another boat was in order. So it was going somewhere. FD's and PD's have used these to get most of the high ticket items for as long as I can remember. Oh and by the way the study I mentioned started about 3 years ago when 2 people lost their lives due to a lack of response. Sad it had to happen that way, even sadder is people trying to out think the fed's and the pros. As far as the different boat. The one that are in use now were all bought and distributed by the fed. None of the recipients were able to any modifications. As I understand it NKFD has or had been researching the different types of boats and who uses them. That is where the Moose boat came from. NKFD was able to spec it exactly as they wanted after knowing the issues with the first set. DIFFERENT YES
bayguy May 12, 2013 at 11:26 AM
There are no free boats!


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