MVFC fireboat

Millville Volunteer Fire Company Assistant Chief Paul Sterling, Public Information Officer Tony Petralia and Chief Guy Rickards stand alongside the fire company’s new boat, which will be placed into service this summer.

The Millville Volunteer Fire Company has purchased a new boat designed to help emergency personnel respond to emergencies in shallow bay waters in the MVFC service area.

The 24-foot aluminum boat is now housed at the Millville firehouse and will be placed in service sometime in July, according to Fire Chief Guy Rickards. It replaces a 26-year-old boat that is much smaller.

Because it is larger, the new boat, with its 10-person capacity, will enable the fire company to respond to incidents where more people are involved, and to carry more emergency personnel. The older boat was 8 feet shorter and was limited to picking up two or three people at the most, Rickards said.

A new feature on the boat is a “jack plate,” which enables the motor to be raised up without tilting the back of the boat, “so the propulsion is straight out,” which is considered particularly crucial in shallow water, such as that of the Indian River Bay, Rickards said.

“That is a big plus over any other fireboat in the area that I know of,” fire company Public Information Officer Tony Petralia said.

Rickards said the boat will be placed into service as soon as fire company members are trained in its use.

“This boat, because it’s newer, has a little bit of a different procedure,” Rickards said.

Everything is different, he said, from unloading procedures, the boat’s operation and how the engine is flushed after use to the newer GPS equipment, which is a state-of-the-art Garmin unit.

“That’s one of the most important pieces of equipment on here, so we don’t run aground with all the sand bars” in the bay, Petralia said.

One detail that is less technical but still important for rescues is a grab bar that runs the length of the boat.

The recent rough waters and high winds during the Mother’s Day-weekend nor’easter gave the fire company a chance to try out the boat in less-than-ideal conditions, Petralia said. Pointing to the older, smaller boat, Rickards said, “That boat — that was no good in any type of windy weather.”

“If we had a call today,” he said on Tuesday, as the winds from the weekend nor’easter still blew up to 40 mph, “that boat wouldn’t leave the trailer. It’s just too rough in the bay. It would be sunk. That boat was usually OK in, like, White’s Creek, where it’s protected,” Rickards said. “But out there by Bay Colony, Holt’s Landing and all that, that boat just does not handle the waves.”

“This boat,” Rickards said, pointing to the new vessel, painted a deep red, “can handle rougher weather.”

The Town of Ocean View gave the fire company $55,000 to cover the cost of the boat, Rickards said.

After it is placed in service, the new boat will be responding to incidents such as a medical emergency aboard another boat, a vessel taking on water, or a boating or personal-watercraft accident. While private towing companies will respond to boats that run aground, Rickards said the fire company often responds to those calls if there’s any chance of anyone being injured because of the situation.

The fire company’s EMTs have already been trained on the new vessel, Rickards said. On most calls, one “career crew,” consisting of two EMTs, will go along, he said.

A dedication ceremony will be announced when all relevant personnel have been trained on the new boat, Rickards said.

Staff Reporter

Kerin majored in journalism at Ohio University and has worked as an editor and reporter for monthly, daily and weekly publications in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Delaware since 1983. A native of Baltimore, Md., she has lived in Ocean View since 1996.