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Rescue boats 'will save someone's life'

Department receives
$30,000 grant for purchases

Staff writer

Harold Stultz Sr. feels safer in a flood situation now that he knows Hillsboro Fire Department has rescue craft available when stranded people are in need.

“They might go three or four years and never have to use it, but there’s going to be a time where it will save someone’s life,” he said.

The fire department was awarded a $30,254 grant from Firehouse Subs last week. The grant will be used to purchase two inflatable boats with motors, a trailer, and an inflatable raft, which could arrive in less than two months.

“In a flood, oftentimes it’s not isolated to one area,” chief Ben Steketee said. “Having two boats means we can better respond to two emergencies at the same time.”

Stultz, a rural Hillsboro resident, was stranded for two hours with his wife, Sue, when their truck was swept into floodwater this summer. Sue developed hypothermia during their wait for help.

Hillsboro’s Fire Department did not have a rescue craft at the time, so one had to be brought from Goessel.

“Those guys deserve those boats,” Stultz said. “If that boat hadn’t come, we might have lost Sue.”

To help the fire department, Stutz originally donated $2,000 toward buying a boat, but the department gave the money back after receiving the grant.

Having the right equipment for a water rescue is especially important because of Hillsboro Fire Department’s role within the county, Steketee said.

“It gives us options,” he said. “We’re the primary water rescue department in Marion County, so we need to make sure we have all those options.”

The fire department will be able to adapt and perform rescues in more situations, Stutz said.

“If they have people in trouble in a bigger body of water, they have a bigger boat,” he said. “For a situation like us, a little boat was ideal, and they could get to us quickly.”

The raft will be best for ice rescues or if motorized boats can’t get out, Steketee said. Receiving the funds for several rescue crafts shows why it’s important not to undersell grant requests he said.

“You have that because you asked for it,” he said. “What you think you might need, you ask for. We were really blessed with the Firehouse Subs grant that they agreed with us on our mission.”

Stutz won’t be trying his luck with any more flooded roads, he said.

“You can’t see what’s there,” he said. “I learned my lesson. I’ve lived in Hillsboro 17 years and every summer I drove through that water without a problem.”

Last modified Oct. 10, 2019

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