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Lake Assault Fireboat helps with Foss Lake wildfire

Published on 21 July 2016
The 33-foot craft was used to haul up to 20-person crews, and their canoes and equipment to staging areas to fight the blaze
Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade shuttles equipment and firefighting crews

A Lake Assault fireboat, owned and operated by the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade, provided support for wild land fire fighting efforts during the Foss Lake wildfire near Ely, Minn. earlier this spring. The 33-foot craft was used to haul up to 20-person crews, and their canoes and equipment to staging areas to fight the blaze. The fire, located approximately 10 miles west of Ely, Minnesota in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), consumed a total of 936 acres and was contained and controlled on June 2nd.

Providing support to wild land fire fighting

“Providing support to wild land fire fighting efforts on shore is an important role for the fireboats we build,” said Chad DuMars, Lake Assault Boats vice president of operations. “We are very proud that organisations like the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade are here to help protect structures and vital natural resources such as the BWCAW, and that our boats play an important role in the brigade’s mission.”

Don Potter is the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade president and operations chief. “We often assist the Forest Service, DNR, County Rescue Squads, and municipalities and go wherever we’re needed; we’re extremely reasonable and have state-of-the-art equipment. Last year, in the same area, we were responsible for structure protection during a prescribed burn. We did a lot of pre-treating of fuels, using our boat’s large roof monitor and spraying the shoreline. We also quickly extinguished a spot fire that was caused by firebrands flying across the lake.”

Fireboat features

The landing craft style boat – with a ten-and-a-half foot beam – features twin 300 hp outboards that can reach speeds of up to 50 mph. The fireboat is equipped with a 1600 gpm water pump, a 300 hp V8 pump engine, and three discharges – including a high flow monitor and water cannon.

When supporting wild land fire fighting operations, the Lake Assault fireboat can fill up tanker apparatus that are stationed on shore. “We serve as a water supply resource, and that’s a tremendous benefit to fire-fighters because we can fill a tanker in a hurry,” added Potter. “We’re like a floating fire hydrant.”

Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade has two Lake Assault Boats in its fleet, and also owns a 25-foot airboat used primarily for ice rescues. “Both of our boats were designed over the course of many meetings with an expert team from Lake Assault; their people are fantastic,” said Potter. “They’re a very talented group and it's a quality product. The thing about Lake Assault is that they can make just about anything.”

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