Shannon Dumville is happy the Alberton Volunteer Fire Department’s new search and rescue boat has finally arrived.
“We were hoping to have it here earlier for boating season, but we’re up and ready to roll for next year,” said the department’s chief. “With COVID, and the blockade that happened earlier this year with the Suez Canal, parts and pieces were on the other side of that, so it got delayed even further.”
Residents had the chance to see the new boat for themselves during an open house on Oct. 9.
The boat is 21 feet long, with a 150 horsepower engine, capable of doing roughly 35 knots. A three person crew will operate the vessel, which has a full array of electronics, including a plotter, sounder, radar, and a side-scan sonar for the bottom.
Fourteen of the department’s 33 members have been trained to use it. Training was done in Charlottetown through the Canadian Coast Guard.
One of the firefighters trained in the boat’s operation is Steven LeClair.
“It’s a totally new ballgame for me, because I’m as green as the grass when it comes to a boat,” he said. “The first time I ever drove a boat was when I did my course in Charlottetown. We started right from the basics. You drove the boats, but it was more the rules of the road and learning all that stuff, because you have your buoys, and who’s got the right of way and who doesn’t.”
Replacement value of the boat is about $120,000, the cost of which is completely paid off, something that was accomplished in no small part through donations from the community.
“We started a fundraiser, we did receive $30,000 from the provincial government, the Alberton Firefighters Inc., which is our not-for-profit, through fundraising donated a certain amount, and we launched a fundraiser,” said Mr Dumville. “We actually shut it down within five days because we had surpassed our goal by quite a bit. We were floored. We’ve done fundraising in the past, but never anything to that scale. We can’t thank the community enough.”
Mr Dumville wanted to thank Darren Shea and Jason Milligan in particular, both for the research involved on the boat and getting everything ready, to their efforts during the fundraising campaign. The chief said the two were at the fire hall for 12 hours a day for the five days the fundraising took place.
Having the new boat will be a great asset, and not just for the Alberton Volunteer Fire Department. The boat is a mutual aid asset as well, meaning if one of the other communities in the region needs it, all they need to do is send word through the dispatch, and it’s on the way.
“There have been many times where we’ve gotten calls, and it’s a sinking feeling when somebody is out on the water in trouble,” said Mr Dumville. “We could do ground operations, but as far as being on the water, it’s a good Samaritan thing. We do have a few people here that own their own lobster boat, or oyster dory, so we’re able to help that way, but this is definitely a big asset.”