New boat will help with water rescues along the Yakima River in Benton County

BENTON CITY, Wash. — The Benton County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) and Benton County Fire District #2 (BCFD #2) have collaborated to bring a shallow water rescue boat to the region.

The vessel will primarily be stationed in Benton City at the BCFD #2 station, but will service water rescues along the Yakima River throughout Benton County.

The boat was requested by BCFD #2 a few years ago. After some fundraising, BCFD #2 and BCSO split the cost of the $72,000 boat.

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The boat is specifically designed to run in 2 to 3 inches of water, and gets up to plane in 15 feet of water. The boat also has a 250 horsepower turbo Ski-Doo motor.

Gesa Credit Union donated $5,000 for BCFD #2 to purchase a portable water pump, which can be attached to the boat to help fight fires along the shores of the Yakima River as well.

Officials say it will be able to navigate any rescue along any portion of the Yakima River.

“I think last year we had five calls on the Yakima, which doesn’t seem like a lot but if you’re the one in peril, it’s time,” said Ron Duncan, District Fire Chief with BCFD #2.

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“It takes us a long time to actually get a raft or some kind of boat on the river to help somebody and really, the boats that we have, they really can’t go up and down the Yakima river because it’s just too shallow certain times of the year,” Duncan said. “There are pockets that are real deep, and then other parts that are really shallow and it takes a long time to get up there.”

BCFD #2 is partnering with Pasco Fire Department to train BCFD first responders that are already familiar with Swift Water Rescues to operate the boat within the next week.

“This is a need that’s been here for a really long time,” Duncan said. “The Sheriff’s Department has done an absolute terrific job serving the community and I’m really proud that they wanted to collaborate with us and jointly get this thing on the water.”

“It really speaks loudly to the partnerships of our local fire departments and our sheriff’s departments,” Duncan said. “I’m really happy about that.”

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