Paducah Fire working to better prepare for water emergencies

The Paducah Fire Department is trying to better protect you during emergencies on the water. It has applied for a Port Security Grant through FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard to help buy a true fire boat.

“It’s a floating fire truck, for lack of a better description. It will pump 1,500 gallons per minute,” Kyle said.

Right now, Paducah Fire uses a fishing boat that pulls a fire barge during emergencies. It works, but Fire Chief Steve Kyle wants an equipment upgrade. And he says this grant opportunity will help cover most of the cost.

“The risk assessment for our port identified that we need increased capabilities in this area,” Kyle said.

The fire boat will have full fire and rescue capabilities. It will also have radiation and nuclear detection equipment, which can monitor and mitigate any hazardous materials or leaks from boats on the water.

Mother Antoinette Seminario-Skinner, who was spending time with her mother, son, and nephew at the riverfront Tuesday, hopes the department gets the grant. She says anything that will keep the water safe and clean is great.

“You know, on a nice day somebody wants to go swimming or, you know, go fishing, that water needs to be safe for humans to use it. And, to be honest, especially for my kids. Now that I’m a mom, I want them, you know, to be safe out in the water. And if there is something that we need to know about and this new thing detects it, I think it’s even better,”  Seminario-Skinner said.

Kyle says lots of tow boats and barges use this river.

“We have a lot of possibilities that sits there out on the river that most of the time the general public doesn’t even know about, you know? But, thankfully, it’s very safe most of the time. But we are trying to be prepared for  those instances where something might happen,” Kyle said.

The cost for the boat, equipment, and training comes out to more than $1 million. 

The fire department would cover $195,587 of that. $91,879 will be a cash match in the fire department’s budget for the next fiscal year. Paducah’s fire department is funded by the city of Paducah’s general fund, which mainly consists of property and income taxes.

$103,708 will be an in-kind payment. The grant allows using the dollar value of personnel costs on the training for the new equipment to go toward the grant match.

Cape Girardeau, Missouri, also applied for the grant in a group effort to have this entire port region covered.

Kyle hopes to find out if Paducah Fire has gotten the grant in September.

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