NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Fire Department christened its new rescue boat, the Robert Bedell, at a ceremony at Veteran’s Memorial Park on Monday.
The 38-foot boat is equipped with three nozzles that can spray up to 2,400 gallons of water per minute, said Lt. Tim Morrissette, who oversaw the acquiring of the boat. It has sensors that can track chemicals and radiation. The boat is powered by two 425-horsepower diesel engines and can travel at speeds of up to 35 knots. It also has a pressurized cabin to protect its occupants from hazardous conditions.
“This event is the culmination of several years of hard work and collaboration between local, state and federal agencies,” said Fire Chief Denis McCarthy. “It is the result of many, many hours of hard work and commitment to get it right.”
The $660,000 boat was paid for with a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Morrissette and his committee searched up and down the East Coast examining different fireboats before choosing North River Boats in Oregon. He made five trips to Oregon to oversee its construction before it was delivered in October.
“Over the years we’ve read in the papers about a lot of the rescues that our Police and Fire departments have made in our harbor with kayakers or boaters that get in trouble. We know their professionalism and their courage. And now we’ve given them the newest piece of equipment that will help, not only in cases of rescues, but in any other emergency in our harbor or any other harbors,” said Mayor Richard Moccia.
“The threats that this craft will address are deadly serious,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Himes. He commended the first responders who risk their lives to help others. “When Hurricane Sandy hit, we saw their effectiveness demonstrated over the course of several weeks.”
The boat was named in honor of Robert L. Bedell, who served in the Norwalk Fire Department from 1975 until his death in 2004.
“Bob’s legacy will continue to serve the City of Norwalk through this fire boat,” said McCarthy.