Fire District 9 volunteers outfit pontoon boat with new water delivery system

RaeLynn Ricarte

Stevens County Fire District 9 volunteers have spent the summer outfitting a pontoon boat with a pump and hoses to fill tanker trucks and even shoot water through the “big gun” nearly 70 feet onshore.
“It’s a great resource because it gives us unlimited access to water,”  said Chief Jim Martin. “Our tankers only hold 500 gallons of water so if we run out, we can just fill the trucks from the boat and keep going.”
That is an important capability, he said, because the district serves a remote area where it can take more than a few minutes to reach houses built in the woods or on the banks of four lakes. 
The fire hall lies along Highway 20 near Beaver Lodge and is responsible for coverage from Coffin Lake east about three miles to the Pend Oreille border, and two miles north of the highway in the zone to a forest service boundary on the south side of Sherry, Gillette , Thomas and Heritage lakes, which are all connected.
Although there hasn’t been a major wildlife in that location since about 1926, Martin said there are now a lot of fuels on federal land and a lot of timber on private properties, so the department needs to be prepared for a fire. The boat is one of the assets that can be deployed to save residences. 
“It’s a Godsend,” said Royce Beardsley, one of two assistant chiefs. “If anything happens, we can stop a fire in one cabin from going to 15.”

Read more of this story in the Sept. 25 issue of the Statesman-Examiner.