Superior, Wis.-based Lake Assault Boats, part of Fraser Shipyards and a manufacturer of fire, patrol, and rescue craft, has delivered a 28′ boat to the Town of Gibraltar Fire Department, Fish Creek, Wis.
The craft provides emergency response and firefighting services for a large section of shoreline and islands located on Lake Michigan’s Green Bay. The purchase of the boat was funded entirely through the Gibraltar Fire-Rescue Association, a local non-profit organization. No taxpayer money was involved.
“We knew that Lake Assault Boats had a history of building craft capable of securely operating on big water, and we received many positive recommendations from other departments in the region,” Capt. Jayson Merkel of the Gibraltar Fire Department and head of the local non-profit organization, said in a statement announcing the delivery. “Our new boat performs confidently in five foot waves — which can come up in a hurry in our area — and it can reach 52 mph under calm conditions.”
Placed into service earlier this summer, the boat is designed to respond to a wide range of on-the-water emergencies. It features a full width pilothouse (with 76″ of interior height), large front and rear doors (for more efficient patient handling), and two side dive doors. The helm station includes twin 12″ touch screens that control advanced components, including forward looking infrared (FLIR), sonar with SideVu and DownVu, chartplotter, and GPS. Such features serve the Gibraltar Fire Department in its emergency response activities. “When we’re called out on an emergency, it’s usually when weather conditions are too dangerous to send a helicopter, so visibility is often very poor,” Merkel explained. “The new electronics enable us to plot a search pattern in auto pilot and tell the boat where to go.”
The craft is powered by twin 300-hp Suzuki outboard engines equipped with one-touch joystick steering. A portable fire pump helps keep deck space open for patient transfers. The reinforced, double plated forward hull section offers added protection against rocks when pulling onto shore.
For the Gibraltar Fire Department, selecting a useful, durable, and dependable craft was paramount. “There’s no hull paint, and not a lot of bells and whistles on the boat; that’s why our team calls it the workhorse,” said Merkel. “Throughout the entire design and construction process Lake Assault Boats was accommodating to our needs, and gave us helpful recommendations.”
The Gibraltar Fire Department’s protection area includes the borders between Egg Harbor and Ephraim, as well as Peninsula State Park, the west side of Chambers Island and numerous smaller islands. In addition, the department participates in a MABAS mutual aid system. When called upon, a custom trailer is used to transport the craft to support a neighboring department or other agency.
Gibraltar region features several marinas and a large number of homes where water access is often the best option. The area is popular with outdoor enthusiasts of all types, with silent sports kayakers and canoeists drawn to Door County.