Duluth Fire Department Debuts Rescue Jet Ski

Baihly Warfield
Updated: May 13, 2019 06:11 PM

This summer, the Duluth Fire Department will be better equipped to respond to water rescues and other emergencies. 


Firefighters now have access to a new rescue jet ski and new dry suits. 

According to acting Deputy Chief Scott Kleive, the DFD has spent years taking a closer look at how they can better respond to water emergencies. 

"Two years ago, after a sad incident where a father and daughter had passed away or drowned on Park Point, we looked to ways of how we could enhance our response on our 26-mile-long port community," Kleive said. 

Last summer, Duluth Lawn & Sport loaned the department a jet ski to try out. Kleive said it was a success, and after securing a $10,000 grant from Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union and pairing it with some city funding, they were able to purchase a watercraft of their own for $14,000.

He said it's capable of much higher speeds than what they have now. 

"Currently, we use a 12-foot inflatable boat with a 25 horsepower motor. So that's capable of about 20 miles an hour," Kleive said. "This new personal watercraft is capable of 53 miles an hour."

Plus, it will be easier to launch because it will be housed at the Pier B Resort. 

"We just set up a lot of equipment inside the console up there for different life jackets, medical equipment," Kleive said. 

And it has a large deck so that firefighters can haul a third person onto the back. 

According to Kleive, five of the department's eight stations serve the port area. And now, responding firefighters will be outfitted with new dry suits. 

"The suits we've had up to this point are an ice rescue suit that we've just used in the summer months because we haven't had an option," he said. "(The new ones are) more fitted, they come in sizes and enable us to have much more mobility yet keep us warm in the environment."

The fire department is also adding an all-hazard rescue boat to its fleet, called Marine 19. Crews are training on it now, and it will officially come online at the end of May.


Baihly Warfield

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