New fireboat launched at SML will provide faster response times

Fireboat 11-3
Fireboat 11-3 (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

MONETA (WSLS 10) - A much needed addition to the Fire and Rescue Squad at Smith Mountain Lake is making the water safer.

The Smith Mountain Lake Volunteer Marine Fire and Rescue Squad launched a new fireboat Thursday.

The boat will allow rescue teams to navigate parts of the water they weren't able to before.

They say the addition of a new boat will help their response times - especially during the busy summer season.

It's not even a week in to summer yet and already it's been a busy season for fire and rescue crews at Smith Mountain Lake. So far, they have responded to three near drownings, a jet-ski explosion, and a house fire.

When it comes to water rescues, minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

This year, the lives of three children were saved in near drowning accidents thanks to quick action by EMTs.

Ray Talley, Deputy Chief of Smith Mountain Marine Fire Rescue, says they were able to be revived thanks to their crews.

"CPR was performed right away by the medical personnel that are in these different departments. Thank goodness they were able to revive those kids and save them," Talley said.

President Tom Lovegrove of Smith Mountain Marine Fire Rescue says the addition of fire boat 11-3 will allow rescue teams to more safely travel at night and through high waters with debris.

"We can even put a fire pump on board to fight fire with that can be on the scene in 15 minutes versus an hour on the river," Lovegrove said.

Talley says the boat will stay attached to the trailer so that crews can more easily travel by land and launch the boat in the water directly on site.

Not only will it be quicker in many cases, the boats ability to navigate debris heavy water will cut down on repair costs to their larger, older boats that can easily be damaged.

They say their newest boat will be crucial for the July 4th holiday weekend when in the past they've received as many as 17 calls a day.

The rest of their fleet is between 20 and 30 years old so they hope to replace those in the coming years - but they do rely on donations from the public.

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