Taking advantage of a spring day, the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District tested a new rescue boat Wednesday that Capt. Randy Flynn said, "will let us respond quickly to emergencies on the lake 24-hours a day, 365 days a year."
The $42,000 vessel can travel close to 40 mph and pump 1,000 gallons of water a minute. It will allow the department to fight fires on the lake. Flynn said they can be on the water in minutes.
Both Tahoe-Douglas and the South Lake Tahoe Fire Departments purchased new boats over the winter that can respond to accidents all year. Many of the rescue and law enforcement boats previously stationed on the lake were only available in the summer.
"We are incredibly excited about it," said South Lake Tahoe Division Chief Merle Bowman of their $25,000 boat designed for rescue operations. "With so much water line we always felt there was a need for some sort of water rescue ability."
Rescuers will respond to medical emergencies, collisions and other accidents on the lake.
Officials from both departments also pointed to canoes that capsized near Incline Village and Camp Richardson in the last year as reasons for the new boats.
"There were some occasions that we just stood by and watched and that was uncomfortable for us," Bowman said.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's ban on two-stroke engines last year was another reason to replace their older vessels.
The Tahoe-Douglas Fire Department is training its firefighters on the boat.
"We are out there when conditions are at their worst - waves are high the cold is intense - and somebody is in trouble so our training has to be intense," said Assistant Chief Bruce Van Cleemput.
"Some of our most startling rescues have occurred in the winter," Flynn said. "It is wonderful to be out on a day like (Wednesday), but the training is challenging."