Portland Fire and Rescue received an early Christmas present on Tuesday when they took delivery of their new floating boathouse.
The structure arrived at its home on the Willamette River across from the Eastbank Esplanade and is designed to house two emergency response watercraft. it will be an essential part of the marine emergency demands that will be met by the rebuilt Fire Station 21, currently under construction on the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge.
With help from the 2008 Port Security grant through FEMA, PF&R was successful in securing a grant to fund $800,000 of the $1.6 million boathouse, constructed by Oregon Iron Works. The remainder of funds used were from the $72 million general obligation bond that Portland voters passed in 2010.
"This boathouse is a critical part of a dual land-marine based modern fire and rescue station designed to withstand an earthquake and provide a quick response to both land and ever-increasing marine emergencies. Should a major earthquake hit our area, this station and boathouse will be an integral part of our city's emergency response," said Portland Fire and Rescue Chief Erin Janssens.
Fire Commissioner Dan Saltzman noted, "Portlanders voted for this boathouse to be built via the bond process; I'm pleased to see it delivered and am anxious to put it to work responding to emergencies. I'd also like to thank PF&R for their aggressive pursuit of grants and our federal partners for investing in our city"
PF&R responds to emergency incidents along 149 miles of navigable waterways of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Fire Station 21 returned to active service in 2009, primarily to address the ever-increasing marine emergency service demands on the Willamette River in the downtown core area requiring either quick rescue boat response or a boat with high pumping capacity. Fire Station 21, built in 1960, sits on highly liquefiable soils making it extremely vulnerable to a seismic event. Fire Stations must be designed to remain in operation after a major earthquake or other natural disaster.
At this time, Station 21 is currently under construction. The crew for the station continues to provide both land and marine based operations from a temporary facility adjacent to the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge, and also operates a rescue boat, the Eldon Trinity, located at the dock just North of the bridge. In 2014, PF&R will be receiving two new fire boats, one of which will be moored and respond from this location, enabling Station 21's crew to perform both water rescues with the Eldon Trinity and fire protection along the river with the new fire boat.