CLEARWATER, Fla. — A bigger and better addition to Clearwater Fire and Rescue. It's a brand new fire boat that's one of a kind for our area. Firefighters think this will help save lives just when thousands will be headed to Clearwater for spring break.
Get used to the sight of Fire Boat 44. The next closest one like it is in Miami.
"It's huge. Absolutely huge," said Lt. Jarett Hood with Clearwater Fire & Rescue. "Leaps and bounds over what we had before."
The department has been busy testing out the new boat. It's faster, easier to maneuver and has mounted hoses. Plus, a sort of important feature on the water, it's aluminum and has a diesel motor.
"If you have a fiberglass boat that's gasoline powered you are bringing fuel to the fire and obviously that doesn't work out too well," he said.
It can also pump out twice as much as a fire truck
"Will it save lives? Absolutely because we are going to be able to go places where other boats just can't," said Hood.
From high ground one Pinellas County resident has been watching them practice for weeks.
"When you are standing up 60 feet in the air and you see a water hose shooting as high as you are standing it's kind of intriguing," said Jacob Stewart. He's doing construction work on a condo that overlooks where the boat is kept.
Firefighters say it's also a great tool for rescuing swimmers. They may be practicing right now but starting in the end of this month comes the real test. Spring break. Their department gets about 140 rescue and fire calls a year.But a majority of them happen during spring break. The boozing and riskier behavior on jet skis and boats spell a recipe for disaster.
"They don't know what they're doing and they can get themselves into some trouble," said Hood.
They say you get what you pay for and this fire boat coming in at six figures.
"$650,000?! I hope it was worth it," said Stewart.
Clearwater Fire & Rescue is certain they'll prove it.