An unfortunate incident on the Boise River left the Boise Fire Department without its Jetcraft XS SJ jet boat. The department’s Jet Ski was also recently damaged. The guys are literally up a creek without a paddle and no way to clear the river of debris. The timing is extremely bad due to the fact that “float season” is soon to start. It’s important to clear the river of trees and other objects that can impair or injure people floating downstream.
“We’re not really sure how that’s going to occur this year,” Boise Fire spokeswoman Char Jackson told the Statesman Wednesday. “We’re working on a plan to clear that debris, utilizing something else.”
The department may end up contracting out the tree removal since there are no similar boats available.
As far as the latest incident, shore-based rescue techniques have been a staple of the department since getting the jet boat in 2012. The firefighters are well trained in the event of a rescue and often practice on the river, so they were ready when their recent training exercise turned into a rescue. Their jet boat smashed into a Broadway Bridge pillar and the engine filled with water and the men immediately went into rescue mode. Two firefighters had to be rescued by another team using ropes to hoist them to the top of the bridge. One firefighter was able to escape the wreckage and swim to shore.
The jet boat is currently under evaluation by insurers who will determine if it can be repaired.
The department’s Jet Ski suffered damage last month after the motor sucked up debris and rope. It’s currently being repaired. Paul Roberts, Boise Fire Division Chief of Special Operations, said the PWC is more prone to damage from debris in high water, so it’s not ideal to use in the river at this time. The water is just too high.
Hopefully, the Boise firefighters will soon be back in the water rescue business.