New Jet Skis for Cooper County Fire Protection
"We never know when we are going to get a call, when we're not going to get a call," Pierce said. "We try to get on the water as fast as we can."
The fire district's new jet skis are from Columbia Power Sport, thanks to a law enforcement loan program from Kawasaki Co.
"They loan them to agencies that respond to the nation's waterways for water rescue situations," explained Chief Larry Oerly. "They promote water safety with the wave runners and help the local departments that otherwise wouldn't be able to afford to own these."
The district has an annual budget of about $210,000, but jet skis cost $10,000 apiece. So, if it weren't for the loan program, Cooper County couldn't afford them. Agencies don't have to pay for the skis, they just have to carry insurance, pay for damages and return them in good condition after one year. That costs Cooper County only $300-$500 a year for the equipment.
"We use it quite a bit for search," Pierce explained. "We use it for rescue, people who have fallen off a boat, and we've gone down and gotten them."
Cooper County monitors about 60 miles of waterways and uses the jet skis for about 14 calls a year. The fire protection district hopes to train 6-8 more people to use them by next month.