New rescue boat

Firefighters train on Temple Fire & Rescue’s new swift water rescue boat during a demonstration Wednesday at Sparta Valley Park on Lake Belton.

Temple can now rest a little more easily in time of flooding.

This is because Temple Fire & Rescue announced the unveiling of a new swift water rescue boat Wednesday.

This announcement comes 3½ months after the city received a grant to buy the boat. The funding, which was for $20,000, came as part of community grants State Farm Insurance gives out.

Temple used this money to buy an Inmar inflatable swift water rescue boat, and a trailer for transportation.

For Training Chief Jonathan Christian, the new craft is more than just a boat, it was something that the city has really needed. The boat will mainly be used during times of flooding where special training is needed to help those in trouble.

On Wednesday, officials displayed the boat at Cedar Ridge Park on Lake Belton.

“This boat really won’t respond to the lake much, Morgan’s Point (Resort Fire Department) mainly responds to the lake with bigger boats,” Christian said. “This boat is more for flooded areas and swift water, somewhere like when Lions Park floods or the creeks flood, when we have standing water. This is going to probably sustain us for a good while.”

With this new craft Temple will join many other cities in the area, such as Killeen and Belton, to have a craft of this type that is equipped with trained swift water technicians. The city spent time with others in the area that already had at least one of these crafts, talking and figuring out which one would be best for Temple.

“There were some very specific things we were looking for (in a boat),” Christian said. “I think we probably have one of the best boats in the area. We have an on par and equal boat to anybody in the area, even the high-dollar fancy Zodiacs.”

The grant given by State Farm comes from a pool of money the company uses to help out local areas in need of new equipment or services. Gina Wilken, State Farm’s East Texas and Houston public affairs specialist, said that a portion of the business done in the area goes into this pool of money to give back to the community.

Wilken knew that she had wanted to help but the process took nine months after initial talks due to ruling out other overly costly projects.

“The strategic budget, which this came out of, are my bigger grants and I have about 12 of those,” Wilken said.

When the craft is not being used by the city, the plan is to keep it at one of the fire stations where can be store until a there is a need.

For Wednesday’s training, Christian asked Greg Merrell from the Oklahoma City Fire Department to help train the future operators of the craft. Personnel practiced quick turns and other maneuvers on Lake Belton on Wednesday.

After Merrell’s training, the city plans on the boat being moved to active duty immediately.