Manson Fire Department Fire Boat: Smoke on the water — on Twin Lakes, a new tool

Firefighters will be able to attack fires from the lake side

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Manson Assistant Fire Chief Dave Anderson looks over the deck of the department’s new fire boat recently a few days before crews did the final installation of the pumping unit and other gear. The boat will be stationed at Twin Lakes and will be used for lakeside fires and as a pumper to fill tanker trucks at rural fires in the area in addition to boat fires and water rescues.

MANSON — The latest piece of equipment in the fire fighting arsenal of the Manson Fire Department actually floats.

It’s the Manson Fire Department’s fire boat.

Dave Anderson, Manson assistant fire chief, listed off some of the specifications.

“It’s a 2011 Mystic Harbor 20-footer with a 60 horsepower Mercury four-stroke,” he said.

That’s just the boat.

-Submitted photo
Members of the Manson Fire Department test an early configuration of the fire boat they’ve constructed for use on Twin Lakes.

The firefighters have modified the craft with the addition of a pump, a deck-mounted water cannon and a special float that goes into the water that filters the water to keep fish, debris and other muck out of the water stream. It also carries a back board and other water rescue and search gear.

The boat will fill at least one special niche: fires around Twin Lakes.

“We’ve had a few house fires at Twin Lakes,” Anderson said. “A lot of them are so close to the water that you can’t get around to the front of them.”

With the boat on the water, crews would be able to attack the fire from the lake side.

The department has been floating the idea for several years. Several years ago, a pontoon boat with superstructure damage became available.

-Submitted photo
Members of the Manson Fire Department lift the pump unit onto the deck of the fire boat they’ve built for use on Twin Lakes.

“A few years ago,” Anderson said, “Joe and Laura Horan had one that was flipped over in its lift during a storm. I mentioned that it would really be nice if they donated that to the Fire Department … and they did.”

Anderson remains grateful for the donation.

“It’s the perfect building block,” he said.

Members of the department stripped the boat down to the bare deck. Twin Lake Marina helped them out with parts at cost or as a donation.

Twin Lakes Restoration and Sherman Township each did a fundraising drive to help pay for the boat.

-Submitted photo
Members of the Manson Fire Department work on installing the deck nozzle on the fire boat they’ve built for use on Twin Lakes.

“Each of them made a major contribution which allowed us to buy everything that we needed to put the boat together,” Anderson said.

The Calhoun County Community Foundation also provided a $5,000 matching grant to the effort.

Getting the boat perfect took some research and development and a bit of work with wrenches.

“Bob and Julie Lowery have a pond that they let us use during the research and development phase,” Anderson said. “Most of last summer was spent trying different combinations of components.”

The crew is now in the process of putting the final touches on the boat and assembling the components in just the right configuration to meet their needs.

The boat will be stationed on Twin Lakes.

“The Iowa DNR is going to let us leave it at the DNR station on the water,” he said.

The boat is intended for several other uses besides lakeside structure fires.

“We can use it for boat fires and water rescues,” he said. “During rural fires we can use it to fill tankers. Now we have to take a pumper truck to the lake to fill them. When we are able to use the boat we can take that truck to the fire instead.”

The department invested in a new gas-powered pump unit for the boat. The self-contained unit can be lifted off the boat by a crew if it’s needed on shore.

“It’s a 64-horsepower Darley Hercules pump,” Anderson said. “It can pump just shy of 600 gallons per minute.”

Like any other apparatus or tool in their kit, the firefighters are glad they have it but hope it isn’t needed.

“I hope we use it for practice and that’s it,” Anderson said.