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Gilford dedicates new fire boat

Gilford Fire Chief Steve Carrier and friends help dedicate the new fire boat "Lake Jake." (Photo by Erin Plummer) (click for larger version)
May 22, 2019
"Lake Jake," the Gilford Fire Department's new fire boat, has been officially christened and dedicated and is ready for service on the lake.

Last Sunday morning, members of the department, town officials, donors, and other supporters came to the Glendale dock for the formal dedication and christening of "Lake Jake," the department's brand new fire boat.

Firefighter Ron Skinner said the department got the new boat a month ago and have been training almost every day on it since. Right now, all full time personnel can operate the boat and a few call firefighters can drive it as well, including Skinner. As of Sunday, the boat hadn't gone to any calls as of yet, though past years have shown that Gilford's fire boat is typically one of the most in demand on the lake.

The 30-foot boat from Eastern Boats has a water pumping capacity of 1,500 gallons per minute, three times the pumping power of the previous boat. The boat has a six-cylinder Chevy engine with powerful turning capacity as well as four pre-piped discharges and a dive door for rescues at water level. It's also equipped with a thermal imaging camera, sonar, and a Garmin GPS system.

The boat carries a large array of fire and EMS equipment. Skinner said the boat is big enough so they can carry all the equipment they need for any call.

During the dedication Fire Chief Steve Carrier paid tribute to the department's retired fire boat "Snuffer." Snuffer was originally put into service in 1977 and named through a contest held in the Gilford schools. Carrier said the boat responded to hundreds of calls in its 41 years on the lake and received a number of alterations and equipment changes.

"It was a dependable workhorse, whether pumping water at a fire, transporting a patient, or towing a broken down boat; Snuffer performed well," Carrier said.

The boat's name comes from the term "Jake" as another word for a firefighter, a term Carrier said is believed to have origins in the Northeast especially the Boston area.

"It's origins have been debated for years, but every firefighter would agree that they want to be known as and referred to as 'A Good Jake,'" Carrier said. "So that is what this boat will be – a good firefighter for the lake – 'Lake Jake.'"

Carrier said the boat was dedicated to all those who have lost their lives or become sick or injured on the lake.

"For no higher reason does this boat exist and stands ready today than to respond to emergencies on our lake and islands," Carrier said. "Whether it was a loss of life from fire, drowning, or sudden illness; or loss of vacation home, wooded island property, or family boat; not one of these tragedies was in vain. We don't forget. Each served as a reminder of how vitally important this piece of apparatus is to our community."

The fire boat received a number of donations, which went toward the boat's electronic equipment. Carrier recognized donors Ronald Cohen, Ronald and Kathy Salanitro, Edward Bastille, Anne Hummel, Deems Buell, Kathy Simpson, Jane Kneuer, Walter Hebold, and an anonymous donor from Moultonborough who received aid from Gilford's fire boat for a fire on their Long Island property. He also recognized Eastern Boats, especially Jake Boudreau; saying they know the boat is worth much more than the price that was paid for it.

A special recognition was given Jack Sousae, a 30 year Navy veteran who made a significant donation to the fire boat. Sousae was given the honor of breaking a bottle of champagne on the boat with the help of some members of the Gilford department.

After the ceremony, attendees were able to go for a short ride on the boat from Glendale to just by the Weirs and back.

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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