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 Departmentâ€™s 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.
â€śThe little I know about boats, I know holes in an inflatable boat is not a good thing,â€ť said NCU President Gary Furtado. â€śBecause the communities we serve have been good to us, we need to be good to them also.â€ť
Furtado joined Fire Chief Gary Lataille and Capt. Tim Walsh at the Riverâ€™s 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 WFDâ€™s 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.