New DC Fire and EMS fireboat ready to help improve water safety as Memorial Day weekend arrives

- As Memorial Day weekend approaches, many people may be thinking about spending some time on or near the water. In fact, because of a surge of development along local rivers in the D.C. area, emergency officials are looking at ways to improve safety on these waterways.

Fireboat 2 is the newest marine vehicle for the D.C. Fire and EMS Department. It's fast, it's powerful and it's needed – especially as development surges along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers.

“We have increased firefighting capabilities,” said marine operator Donnie Eller.

The boat’s cabin seals airtight, it can move sideways and sprayers can all be controlled from inside of the cabin.

This new boat will help with an increased need on area waterways. Not only are many people flocking to the shoreline to enjoy the District Wharf and Navy Yard, but many are arriving by boat. Now, there are even water taxis connecting D.C. to Virginia and Maryland.

“We have in the limited time it has been open seen an increase in the boat traffic and in traffic in the channel,” said Lindsey Scott of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Harbor Patrol.

“The area is getting much more congested up here. It's harder to maneuver the larger boat. This boat has a lot of capability packed on a small platform,” said D.C. Fire and EMS Deputy Chief John Donnelly.

The District is not only focused on beefing up fire and police protection along local waterways, but there are also environmental concerns with the new development. There is a bill currently being debated by city lawmakers that would create a position in the mayor's office to make sure these issues are addressed along these fast-growing waterways.

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