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Lake Geneva Chiropractic

Lake association raises funds for fireboat



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October 08, 2013 | 11:55 AM
The quickest way from the north shore to the south shore of Geneva Lake (and from east to west for that matter) is by water.

The Geneva Lake Association wants lake area fire departments to have that advantage.

The association of lake area residents has started a fundraiser to buy a fireboat. The goal is to have the boat in the water next summer.

Dianna Colman, who chairs the GLA’s fireboat committee, said the association isn’t buying the boat, but raising funds to make the boat possible.

She said the association gives away grants and scholarships. “But we’re looking at doing something for the entire Geneva Lake community,” Colman said.

The fireboat is intended to be a “floating fire hydrant.” The boat’s pumps will be powerful enough to fill fire tankers at the scene of the fire

The town of Linn was selected to house the boat because it has the highest percentage of lakefront, and it has no fire hydrants, Colman said.

Colman said the association is now in the “soft phase” of the project.

She said all of the communities and their fire departments have been contacted and all of the communities have expressed interest in the project.

Now it will be up to the GLA to raise the funds.

Tom Nickols, a GLA board member, visited the Lake Geneva Police and Fire Commission early last month with the fireboat proposal.

Nickols told the commissioners that the GLA members hoped that the boat could be on the water by next summer.

Nickols estimated it would cost about $325,000 for the boat. The GLA wants to raise $425,000 for the boat, maintenance and fuel, he added.

“We’re not asking for anything from the county or the communities on the lake,” Nickols said.

Nickols said many of the lakeside homes have restricted access by land.

Nickols cited a recent fire in the Geneva Bay Estates. The home was not occupied, and the fire burned itself out.

But the landscape is steep and the driveways into the area are narrow, Nickols said. Getting a fire truck to the fire would have been difficult, he told the commissioners.

Some of the lakeside homes are very close to each other, making a fire at one residence a threat to its neighbors, he added.

It is extremely difficult for some of the bigger pumper trucks to wend their way along those narrow driveways to get to a fire, and then have to drive out to refill their tanks, Nickols said.

And fire hydrants are scarce in some areas.

The fireboat would draw water from the lake for use in the pumpers.

In essence, the fireboat will be a fire hydrant on the lake, Nickols said.

And, having the fireboat on the lake will result in a break on the cost of fire insurance for lakeside residents, he added.

Nickols said that the plans are still in a preliminary stage.

“This isn’t all thought out,” he told the commissioners. Boat staffing, training and equipment are among those things that still need to be determined, he said.

Lake Geneva Fire Chief Brent Connelly said a fireboat could assist the Lake Geneva Fire Department in the case of a downtown fire.

“What happens in winter?” asked Commissioner Tom Hartz.

“We put it on skates,” Nickols said, straight faced. “No,” he quickly added. “It’s a warm weather vehicle.”

However, in a later interview, Colman said the boat does have the capability to operate on up to 6 inches of new ice.

Colman said the fireboat committee would need about 75 percent of the cash on hand before the vessel can be purchased.

The boat will benefit homes even one or two streets away from the lakefront, Colman said.

In Nov. 2012, the Linn Fire Department created a committee to look into the possibility of buying a fireboat.

The town of Linn is divided by Geneva Lake. The town’s fire station is on the south side of the lake, making it difficult to provide fire protection services to the north side.

However, according to a story in the Nov. 8, 2012, Lake Geneva Regional News, a fireboat was just one of a number of options the town was exploring.

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