Archive for Thursday, May 29, 2008

De Soto Fire Department to purchase river rescue boat

May 29, 2008

With the expectation of more people taking advantage of the Kansas River's recreational opportunities, the De Soto Fire Department will purchase a rescue boat.

The De Soto City Council approved May 21 spending as much as $10,500 on the boat and equipment. Fire Chief Kevin Ritter said the expense would be absorbed by his annual budget.

De Soto firefighters already had training in cold-water rescue and suits, Ritter said. Additional training with the Leavenworth County Water Rescue Team would be needed before the department made use of the new boat. The trained De Soto water rescue team would become part of the Leavenworth County team, he said.

Ritter said he chose the Go-Devil boat he was recommending on the advice of Councilman Ted Morse, who owned one in the past. The boat can operate in water as shallow as 1 inch or on 8-inch soft surfaces of mud or vegetation, Ritter said.

City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle said he would prefer the purchase of the rescue boat await the merger of the De Soto Fire Department with Johnson County Rural Fire District No. 3. However, he, fire district officials and Johnson County representatives agreed at a recent meeting the merger won't be possible before Jan. 1, 2010.

Guilfoyle said he also agreed with Ritter's argument that because the city boat ramp was an invitation for residents and visitors enjoy the Kansas River, the city did have a responsibility for their safety.

Ritter said a Lenexa team was the first to arrive at the boat ramp after a recent call and that was 28 minutes after the call was issued. Moreover, Ritter said that team still had to unload its craft and get it in the water.

Ritter was very cost conscious, and a review of the budget indicated the fire department could absorb the cost of the craft in its 2008 budget, Guilfoyle said.

As for the merger, Guilfoyle said that although it was agreed the merger would be delayed a year, the five-member board that would put the unification merger in place needed to be appointed soon. The De Soto City Council and Johnson County Commission both will appoint members to the board with the right to appoint to members to the board with the fifth seat alternating between the two bodies. The county commission will name the fifth for the board's first two years.

Guilfoyle asked council members to consider possible members so that appointments could be made in June.

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