CULLMAN, Ala. – Representatives from Logan, Trimble and Crane Hill Volunteer Fire Departments received a $7,000 donation from the Cullman Electric Cooperative Friday morning to help with the purchase of a fire rescue boat. The boat is a much-needed resource for the departments, which cover Smith Lake.

Members of the Cullman Electric Co-Op board were joined by Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman and Rep. Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle to present the check to Trimble Fire Chief Bruce Whitlock, Crane Hill Fire Chief Brandon Williams and Logan Fire Chief Toby Bates.

The departments recently retrofitted a pontoon boat to use on the lake, but they’re now purchasing a bigger boat that’s built for firefighting.

“What we already have is set up for fire fighting and this new boat will be set up for firefighting, but it’s a little bit bigger boat. In terms of getting from point A to point B in a little bit more timely manner, it’s got more room and more capability than what the current boat has. It’s got a sonar and depth finders on it where the boat we have now doesn’t,” Williams said.

The new boat will also help fire and rescue navigate the lake much faster than the boat the departments currently have.

Bates said he feels the new boat is absolutely necessary, sharing, “This boat will be a whole lot safer for us. We need boats designed for this. The one we did, we just had to modify because that’s all we had. We had no other choice. We bought us a pontoon boat and we have a pump on it. Right now, it’s heavy and sits low in the water so we are actually going to have to put a third pontoon on it to get it up out of the water and possibly a bigger motor.”

The purchase of the new boat is a unified effort between the Crane Hill, Logan, Trimble, Dodge City, Loretto, Bremen, Cold Springs and Good Hope fire departments. Williams said the group hopes to have a couple more departments pitch in to help with the cost, too. The boats can be utilized in other areas that may need assistance but will be kept at Smith Lake.

Bates added, “The ultimate boat we would like to put on the lake is a true fire boat, but they are $300,000. There are all kinds of capabilities that go with that. You’ve got technology on sonar, fire fighting protection of 1,500 to 3,000 gallons a minute. It could lower the home owners’ insurance around the lake and a host of things that could benefit. We just gotta find the money.”

A group will leave Saturday to pick up the new boat and should be back on Tuesday.

Said Bates, “Whatever we need to help anybody else, we will do it, but right now in Cullman County, we don’t have anything. We have so many people on the lake. The lake is getting bigger, there’s more people coming and more houses being built on the lake and there’s nothing there to protect those people on the water. If they have a wreck, we have to stand on the bank and watch them with no way to get to them.”

The Cullman County Community Development Commission (CCCDC) presented the Crane Hill and Trimble fire departments a total of $24,000 early Friday morning (see separate story) in addition to the $7,000 from the Cullman Electric Co-Op.

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Christy Perry

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