Firefighters use new tools to help with demand from increased calls for help

New tool provides help along Pinellas Co. waters

PALM HARBOR - Palm Harbor firefighters have a new tool to help respond to the increasing emergency calls along their waters.

The crew now has a boat to replace the 15 ft. inflatable vessel they used to use to rescue people in shallow water.

They helped design the new catamaran  built by Ameracat, including features like an infrared camera to help them better see at night as well as a GPS system and power anchor.

They can even fight fires from the boat with a portable pump, which proved useful earlier this year when they were called to a brush fire on a soil island.

“It’s very crucial to our service and to the residents of Pinellas County,” said Lt. Ray Tracy from the Palm Harbor Fire Dept.

He says they’ve seen an increase in emergency calls along the water.

Last year they responded to more than 50 calls, so far this year they’ve responded to 30.

“We’re just starting out the boating season,” said Tracy, “so that’s alarming.”

State funding supported by Sen. Jack Latvala helped purchase the boat.

The crew is partnering with other agencies to assist with rescues along other parts of Pinellas County.

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