SPEDA contributes to effort to increase public safety
When lake enthusiasts hit the waters on Lake Cumberland Memorial Day weekend, they may see a new vessel being used to protect public safety.
Marine 1 — a 32-foot Boston Whaler equipped with radar, sonar and a global positioning system — has been commissioned by the Somerset-Pulaski County Special Response Team (SRT) as an emergency response unit that will be stationed at Burnside Marina.
With support from the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) and other partners, the boat is on permanent loan to the SRT for no additional cost to the agency. It will be available for any fire, EMS and rescue run and will be operated by SRT pilots. Marine 1 will be left in the water permanently, except for maintenance and during inclement weather, to allow for quick response times to lake emergencies.
“Public safety is an important part of economic development and overall quality of life,” SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said. “Lake Cumberland is one of the most popular lake destinations in the United States, and we must ensure that we’re doing everything in our power to make Somerset and Pulaski County the safest they can be for our residents and visitors. We were proud to support the SRT’s effort to provide another level of protection for our beautiful lake.”
The main purpose of Marine 1 will be to fill the SRT’s original mission of protecting the community against hazardous materials and homeland security threats. But it will also aid in fire protection for marinas and boats on the lake, Somerset-Pulaski SRT Chief Doug Baker said.
“After responding to a fire at one of our local marinas years ago, we saw the need for a fireboat to be moored locally,” Baker said. “But because of the cost involved in buying a new boat, we have not yet been able to do this.”
The SRT is not a fire department, so it was important to find a partner in this effort, Baker said. The City of Burnside and Burnside Fire Department answered the call — Burnside Fire will provide firefighters for Marine 1 while SRT personnel serve as boat pilots.
Baker said the agency plans secure funding to repair and equip another boat of the same size that will be placed at Lee’s Ford Marina in Nancy. Upgrades to Marine 1 are also a priority, with the goal being to replace the current fire pump and handline on the boat’s deck with a remote-controlled fire stream that can be directed from within the cabin.
“SRT has always tried to plan for the future and be progressive in that we make five- and 10-year plans as to what we want to improve for the safety of our community,” Baker said. “Simply because this is the way it’s always been done isn’t good enough.”
Baker said expenses involved with increased COVID-19 response runs in 2021 significantly reduced the funding available for the Marine 1 project, making community partnerships invaluable.
“We are so very grateful for our partners — Chris Girdler with SPEDA, Chief Martin with the Burnside Fire Department, Mayor Lawson and the City of Burnside, and Burnside Marina — who have stepped up and looked towards the future to protect the residents of our county and the tourists who visit Lake Cumberland,” Baker said.