Seas look clear for police/fire boat pact

Despite initial waves, it appears Kitsap Fire District 7 will get the access it needs to Port Orchard’s police boat.

After early friction over the district’s request to have its insignia emblazoned on the side of the 22-foot craft, the interlocal agreement that would give fire personnel permission to use the boat — with authorized police supervision — has been pared down to allow for just what’s necessary.

The final document, which is expected to come up for approval sometime this month, focuses on the key purpose behind the partnership — offering emergency medical response on the water.

“We pretty much decided the two chiefs can get together to figure out what, if any, decals need to go on the boat,” said Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Senter.

Early last month, fire district officials submitted a proposed mutual aid agreement to the city for consideration. The document would give firefighters — especially paramedics — access to the POPD police boat in the case of water emergencies. It would extend the district’s reach to all water surrounding its boundaries and ensure swift response via a relay team of marine and ambulance-based crews.

The city balked, however, at some the district’s requests — primarily its desire to have the fire district decal featured as visibly as the police identification. Since then, the two agencies have worked toward a compromise that would leave everyone happy.

By all appearances, most major issues have now been worked out.

The last remaining concern expressed by the district’s fire commissioners deals with any on-the-water training fire personnel might have to receive before responding to ship-based emergencies. Although the district will likely ask for a guarantee to this effect, it appears EMTs and paramedics will require no formal training since they will be neither piloting the vessel or taking on any additional responsibilities.

Under the contract proposed by the district and the city, a certified marine police officer would be responsible for transporting fire personnel to the scene and returning them, along with any patients, to the nearest suitable landing.

The district does not propose using the police boat as a base from which to fight fires, which eliminates a number of firefighter safety concerns.

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