Woonsocket firefighters Christopher Laprade, Matthew Dubois and Brian Cournoyer demonstrate a new rescue boat on the Blackstone River Thursday morning. Donated by Navigant Credit Union, the boat replaces the department's
12-year-old vessel, which had holes and an undersized motor. Photo/Ernest A. Brown
WOONSOCKET â The transformation of the Blackstone River into a destination for canoeing, fishing and other recreational activities has been one of the success stories of the region in recent years, but it had a downside for the Woonsocket Fire Departmentâs rescue boat.
Firefighters have been responding to calls for emergencies on the river with greater frequency, subjecting the rubber vessel to more wear and tear. As a result, the inflatable craft developed holes.
The need for a new boat was apparent and the Navigant Credit Union responded by donating one to the fire department.
âThe little I know about boats, I know holes in an inflatable boat is not a good thing,â said NCU President Gary Furtado. âBecause the communities we serve have been good to us, we need to be good to them also.â
Furtado joined Fire Chief Gary Lataille and Capt. Tim Walsh at the Riverâs Edge Boat Launch off Davison Avenue Thursday as a rescue team took the new vessel out on the river for a spin.
The Mercury Motor craft is made of marine-grade rubber in a high-visibility shade of red that matches the WFDâs trucks and comes equipped with a 25-horsepower engine that outperforms its predecessor, said Walsh. The old boat was underpowered and had difficulty traveling upstream.
Read more in our print edition.