Nova Scotia

Pugwash fire department gets long overdue rescue boat

A 6.7-metre rescue boat with a 150-horsepower outboard motor was delivered to the Pugwash, N.S., fire hall Monday evening. Until this week, Pugwash firefighters did not have their own boat to respond to water rescue calls.

Department has relied on other boats while responding to water rescue calls

The new Pugwash rescue boat arrived at the fire hall on Monday. It will be tied up at the Pugwash Yacht Club. (Andy Yarrow)

Long overdue. That's how Pugwash, N.S., fire Chief Andy Yarrow describes the new rescue boat his department now has as part of its equipment.

The boat, a 6.7-metre rigid-hull inflatable with a 150-horsepower outboard motor, was delivered to the fire hall Monday evening.

"They pulled up into the driveway with this boat on the back and it was just everything we had wished for," said Yarrow.

Yarrow said anyone who might run into trouble on the Northumberland Strait in the Pugwash area will now have a better chance of survival because the new boat will greatly decrease the time it takes to respond to someone in distress on the water.

The Pugwash Fire Department has already had five calls this year for water rescues and have had to rely on other boats being available to assist them.

The new vessel will also be able to help in shallow water rescues in rivers in the area.

"The inflatable piece sits right on top of the water and there's not much of the rigid hull underneath," said Yarrow. "The propeller of the motor doesn't go in too far either, maybe two feet."

The population along the Northumberland Strait shoreline in Cumberland County grows in the summer months as people flock to cottages, provincial parks, campgrounds and beaches in the area. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The $90,000 boat was purchased locally at Cobequid Mountain Sports in nearby Collingwood Corner.

The fire department has been fundraising for several years to get the new boat. A serious fire back in 1984 was the moment when the former fire chief knew a rescue boat was badly needed.

"It was a big yacht that had gone by the harbour and it caught fire," said Bob Messenger, who was Pugwash fire chief from 1978 to 1998. "By the time we got anywhere with it, it burned right down to the waterline and it sank."

Messenger said a nearby lobster boat was able to take the people on board the yacht to safety.

The new rescue boat will be tied up at the Pugwash Yacht Club, which has offered free space in order for the rescue team to gain quick access to the water.

"Now we're independent, we have our own craft that's going to be available 24/7," said Yarrow.

The rescue boat was ordered last winter but the manufacturing of the vessel was delayed due to COVID-19.