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Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018
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Newest Tampa fireboat arrives in town with big splash

TAMPA - Tampa Fire Rescue's newest piece of floating fire equipment has arrived at its new home. The Patriot, a 69-foot, 52-ton vessel, crossed under the Sunshine Skyway about noon today with jets of water flying 100 feet in all directions. The fireboat was built in Kingston, Ontario, and cost $3.8 million - paid for with a Department of Homeland Security grant. It arrived just before 2 p.m. at Marjorie Park on Davis Islands. "It's not just a fire boat or a fire fighting resource," said Scott Ehlers, Tampa Fire Rescue's assistant chief of operations. "It is now a command and control element; it's a security element."
Before it goes into service, crews will spend several weeks training to use the vessel, according to Capt. Bill Wade, fire department spokesman. In addition to the Patriot, the fire department has two boats. One is 27 feet and the other is 30 feet. The Patriot is the culmination of more than three years of planning and construction, Wade said. The boat left its construction home port of Kingston nearly two weeks ago. It was designed and built with the safety and protection of Tampa Bay recreational and commercial boaters in mind. This boat will be able to respond to emergencies from the Port of Tampa to Port Manatee, through the Tampa Bay shipping channel and past Egmont Key, according to Wade. The Patriot will be operated and staffed by the crew at Tampa Fire Station 17 on Davis Islands. The trip to Tampa was not without incident. On Wednesday, it ran aground off St. Augustine. The boat,
said Wade, was not damaged.
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