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Cornelius News

When—not if—there’s a problem on the lake, a fireboat is a good thing to have

On deck: Firefighters EJ MCCormick, Colin Ballew, and Nick Coats

Feb. 7. By Dave Yochum. Cornelius Fire Boat 4, named the “Simon Aliotta” in honor of a four-year-old boy who died from a rare brain tumor in 2007, is back in service. The 14-year-old boat is now faster and more powerful—and ready to take on virtually any kind of lake disaster ranging from a boating accident to a fire in a large waterfront home.

Refurbished stem to stern at a cost of nearly $300,000, the boat has new Volvo D4 engines rated at 320 horsepower each, new transmissions, paint, electronics, fuel tanks and windows.

Speedy responses

With two people on the boat and a calm day it will do 42 mph, said Capt. EJ McCormick, of the Cornelius Lemley Fire Dept. Sea trials were completed in Canada.

It’s not only fires that the fire department fleet responds to. “Our boat operators respond to a multitude of incidents on the lake including boat fire, medical incidents, hazardous material accidents and drownings, as well as supplying water to land-based fire apparatus,” McCormick said.

The enclosed cabin provides boat operators and patients a safe place to get out of the elements day or night, summer or winter.

Challenging conditions any time of year

“This past summer we had several very long-duration incidents that required our members to operate well into the night. Getting our boats all back in working condition is very exciting,” McCormick said.

In addition to the Simon Aliotta/FB4, the fire department has the FB2, a Carolina Skiff, and an inflatable Zodiac.

“Each boat has its own strengths and weaknesses but all fit the unique response areas we are asked to get into,” McCormick said.

Fire Chief Guerry Barbee said the refurbished boat should be good for another 10 to 15 years. New fireboats may cost $500,000 to $1 million or more.

—Simon’s family raised much of the money for the fireboat when he died in 2007.

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