High Springs buys rescue craft after role change

The High Springs City Commission voted on Thursday to purchase a rescue boat for its fire department now that the city’s role changed with the purchase of a canoe outpost in November. 

Assistant City Manager Bruce Gillingham said the fire department already responds to calls for service on the river, however its personnel have to wait until a rescue craft from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) arrives to access the people. 

The city’s purchase of the Santa Fe Canoe Outpost last year, placing the city in the proprietor role, spurred the need for a rescue craft. 

“Not addressing this need will open us up for a little bit of liability,” Gillingham said. 

Since the canoe outpost purchase, the High Springs Fire Department has responded to five incidents on the river. Gillingham said the boat could also be used during floods.

He said the new equipment won’t stretch the fire department personnel additionally timewise.

“We’re already committed to the call,” Gillingham said. “This will actually expedite it and make it go a little faster than having lengthy on-scene times waiting for FWC to get there.” 

The purchase cost is around $35,000 from a local vendor along with modifications. The city also looked into a jet ski option. 

Gillingham said water rescue already falls within the department’s scope of service. He added that the department can operate the craft under one of its employee’s license without an increase to insurance and that the department already has 90 percent of the equipment necessary for water rescues. 

The boat won’t increase the department budget due to maintenance costs either. According to Gillingham, the current budget will handle the increase. 

The city used Wild Spaces Public Places funds to make the purchase, and the commission voted unanimously on the item.

 

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