Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Cold Lake Fire Rescue Receives new river rescue equipment

By The City of Cold Lake   

Department News Headlines News Alberta Equipment firefighter

Apr. 13, 2023, Cold Lake, Alta. – The city of Cold Lake has recently announced the acquisition of two river rescue boats, to be utilized by Cold Lake Fire-Rescue. The city began the acquisition about 18 months ago after consultation with local emergency responders and research to determine the most appropriate equipment for the area.

The arrival of these two river rescue boats is part of Cold Lake’s response to a June 5th, 2021 accident where Aaron Thir, a young resident of the M.D. of Bonnyville, fell into the Beaver River near the Highway 897 Bridge, approximately 10 minutes south of Cold Lake. While known to be a proficient swimmer, Thir was pulled under the water by the strong current and drowned. The four-day search by local authorities, including RCMP, Cold Lake Fire-Rescue and the Cold Lake Search and Rescue team, was marred by poor weather conditions, unpassable terrain and poor visibility underwater. Search and rescue crews were also hindered by limited resources and equipment that could easily navigate the narrow and winding Beaver River.

“This was a tragic event that affected everyone within the Lakeland. While all the crews did everything they could to find Aaron, we realized after that we had a lot of work to do to improve how an accident like this should be handled,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. He, among many others from the surrounding communities, assisted in the search from Aaron. “The Beaver River can be so narrow and shallow in some areas, so it’s impossible for most watercraft to move through the river. We knew that we had to change this and get the proper equipment, so if an incident like this happens again, our crews would be ready”.

The city purchased two Profish 380 Riverboats, each equipped with 25 Horsepower lightweight Yamaha outboard motors, to be used for navigating rivers in the area, such as the Beaver River. Members of the Cold Lake Fire-Rescue will be receiving specialized training to operate these river boats in the coming months, before the boats are put into service.


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