The first time I can remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, I answered, “a fireman.” I wasn’t politically correct enough at five years old to have answered, “a firefighter.”

Somewhere along the way I got off track and became a reporter and editor. Yet the two careers have crossed paths twice since joining WorkBoat — once when I went through STCW training at the Delgado Maritime & Industrial Training Center in New Orleans and once at the Seaman’s Church Institute Center for Maritime Education in Paducah, Ky. In both instances, which were really great experiences, I got to wear all the gear, the clothes, hat, SCBA and oxygen tank and all the rest. I was able to lug around the fire hose, fully water charged, inside the fire or “burn” buildings, find my way out of a smoke filled room and learn the importance of teamwork when fighting a fire. I’ve also had the privilege of riding on a number of fireboats and fire/rescue boats over the years.

All of this came to mind when I received a press release from Superior, Wis.-based Lake Assault Boats, part of Fraser Shipyards, announcing that it was bringing two of its fire rescue boats to the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) Exhibition in Indianapolis, Ind., next week — a 21' rescue boat and a 28' fireboat.

The 21' rescue boat is courtesy of Minnesota’s Anoka Champlin Fire Department (located north of the Twin Cities). The hull design features removable side railings that help emergency responders to quickly and more easily rescue someone off the side of the boat. It was placed into service last year and is deployed on the Mississippi River where it runs through the department’s response area.

“We’ve used these Lake Assault boats multiple times on rescue operations to pull people out of the rivers,” Charlie Thompson, fire chief for the Anoka-Champlin Fire Department, said. “Our team worked with Lake Assault’s designers to build boats that can operate in very shallow waters, and ones that enable us to quickly and easily reach out and rescue someone off the side of the boat.”

The 28'x9'6" fireboat has a carrying capacity of 4,000 lbs. Manufactured from marine grade 5083 and 5086 aluminum, the hull and superstructure are MIG and TIG welded throughout for added strength and long life. It’s powered by twin Mercury Verado 250-hp outboard engines along with Mercury’s Joystick Piloting and Skyhook Digital Anchor systems designed for additional control and enhanced safety and performance. Other features include a Darley fire pump rated at 1,500 gpm, a 76" tall pilothouse, a full suite of Garmin electronics, a 63" hydraulically operated bow door and LED underwater lights integrated into the front lip of the bow door.

The number of fire, fire/rescue and multimission city, state and county vessels with firefighting capabilities has ballooned in the U.S. since 9/11. This is certainly a conference that would be worth checking out.

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.