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McHenry Township Fire Protection District looks to improve response times on water

McHENRY – In the hopes of cutting down its response time, the McHenry Township Fire Protection District is looking for a place to dock its new rescue boat, its chief said.

The district bought the boat for $52,000 in July, replacing a boat that was donated by the McHenry Rotary Club 25 years ago and has now been donated to the Wonder Lake Fire Protection District.

The new boat is – and the old boat was – kept at Station 2, 3710 Johnsburg Road in Johnsburg, because of its proximity to the Fox River and Pistakee Lake, Fire Chief Tony Huemann said.

If the district could find a place to dock the boat in the water, it could reduce the response time by about half, Huemann said. It’s currently at 15 to 20 minutes depending on where the incident is.

“It does really, truly become a rescue boat then instead of a recovery boat,” Huemann said.

The district is in the exploratory phase of the process, he said. It is evaluating sites, both existing docks and places to build.

While the district would rather not pay for the site, the top priorities are location and security, he said.

Besides covering seven communities over 56 square miles, the district also responds to drownings and medical calls on boats on the Fox River and Pistakee Lake, so the site should be centrally located, Huemann said.

“There are a lot of incidents on the river,” Huemann said. “You’d be amazed. Many of the dives that I’ve been on have been on the river. It’s hard to say it’s one spot [the river or the lake] more than the other.”

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the district responds to incidents on the waterways about two or three times a month, and the boat is deployed onto the lake during fireworks displays. Crews also have been training twice a month since the purchase of the new boat.

The district bought the boat because of the age of the 1984 boat and because it needed a larger boat to handle the new, more sophisticated equipment the district uses, Huemann said.

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