"We're seeing a progression where the coast guard hasn't been responding to a lot of the fires. And as we're seeing more and more fires, the Coast Guard is needing more and more help,” explained North Kingstown Fire Captain, John Linacre. “There's been a lot more boaters out of the water."
Captain Linacre told ABC6 News he believes more boaters on the water, could be a factor in the increase boat fires and medical emergencies.
"Let's face it; the economy's getting better. More and more people have the money now, and fuel prices have calmed down. And they're enjoying their time on the water,” said Christopher Beattie, a North Kingstown firefighter and fire boat operator.
North Kingstown’s fire boat can pump 1,250 gallons of seawater per minute when dousing flames. Water that is crucial when the department responds.
On Sunday, August 14th, the crew assisted for a boat fire under the Newport bridge. Two weeks prior, they helped douse a boat with their ocean pump, after a vessel caught fire twice off of Hog Island.
Captain Linacre and Beattie said more towns should consider purchasing the vessels. Currently, North Kingstown responds to calls all over the state of Rhode Island.
"We did have a fire on a tug boat, where we did respond at the request of the Coast Guard because there were no other marine assets to respond out to it,” said Captain Linacre. "To get to the vessel, it took us about 45 minutes.”
"Just two weeks ago we responded all the way up into the Providence River for a dock fire in East Providence. So that was a hike. It actually took us an hour and ten minutes to get there,” added Beattie.
Critics have voiced concerned about the high price tag of fire boats and taxpayer dollars for maintenance fee’s.
Captain Lincare rebutted, and told ABC6 more money is spent on regular fire truck maintenance than boat.
"There is the need for the fire boats to assist the Coast Guard and assist the members of the community,” said Captain Linacre.
New Bedford just received a new fire boat on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Newport City Council is scheduled to continue discussions on purchasing a fire boat, at their meeting on August 24th.