New Bedford Fire Dept. reveals state-of-the-art rescue vessel

(WPRI/ Madeleine Wright)

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Firefighters in New Bedford have a new tool at their disposal for responding to water emergencies.

The fire department said it took years to find the funds to buy the new state-of-the-art rescue vessel, which is capable of speeds up to 40 miles per hour.

“This is the first time that we’ve actually had a purposely built fire boat straight from the shipyard, and we’re extremely proud to be on it,” said New Bedford Fire Chief Michael Gomes.

The boat will be useful for search and rescue missions and putting out fires on Buzzards Bay. The boat, which was christened Tuesday, will replace an older vessel firefighters say they’ve outgrown.

“I can remember a case where we were sent out for a guy on a windsurfer off the end of Fort Taber, and we out with our little 14′ rescue boat, and he refused to get in it,” Gomes said. “He didn’t think it was safe.”

The new boat is a step toward modernization. It can pump over 1,500 gallons of water a minute.

“It has supplied air breathing systems on board, forward-looking infrared, side scan sonar, integrated chock blotters and radar,” Gomes said.

All of that fancy equipment cost just under $1 million – but a federal grant covered most of the cost. City money and other sources paid for the rest, Eyewitness News has learned.

The new rescue boat will be named after Jesse Pacheco, a firefighter who died in the line of duty. On Tuesday, Pacheco’s widow addressed the crowd.

“On behalf of Jesse and my family, we thank you for this honor, and we’ll treasure it forever,” she said.

With proper maintenance, the boat has a lifespan of 20 to 30 years.

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