With Loss Of Rescue Boat, Boise Fire Turns To Old Technology For Water Rescues

May 8, 2019

The jet boat used by the Boise Fire Department had a mechanical issue April 30 that led to it crashing into the Broadway Bridge. The department is still determining whether the boat can be fixed or if it will purchase a new one.
Credit Boise Fire Department / Twitter

At the end of April, a special boat used by the Boise Fire Department to perform swift-water rescues on the Boise River was severely damaged in an accident. The loss of the boat will change how the agency performs river rescues.

A group of firefighters were training on the Boise River April 30 when their boat had a mechanical problem near the Broadway Bridge.

“With the water running about 6,800 cubic feet per second, that current just clearly took them right into the bridge pillar,” says Boise Fire Department spokeswoman Char Jackson.

After the crash, it was a case of the rescuers needing to be rescued.

“One of the firefighters was able to jump from the boat and make it to shore,” says Jackson. “The other two climbed up onto that bridge pillar, if you will, and then yes, they needed to be rescued.”

The firefighters were saved but the boat wasn’t so lucky. Jackson says the department is still evaluating if the boat can undergo a significant repair of if a new watercraft is a better option. The jet boat is extremely maneuverable and specially designed to work in high current waters and low water. A new one would cost anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000.

Jackson estimates a boat might be back on the river by late June. Until then, she says rescue efforts will be shore-based and rely on a piece of technology called rope.

“We’re on the shore and we’re going to throw a line out to that person, and we’re going to be able to pull them in,” Jackson says.

She wants to remind people that Boise city code – in an effort to promote responsibility – allows the department to charge people for the cost of their rescue.

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