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Phone: 503-823-3700

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55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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NEW RESCUE BOAT WILL IMPROVE EMERGENCY RESPONSE TIMES ON WILLAMETTE RIVER, RECOGNIZE BRAVERY OF CHILDREN

Posted at 10:12 am

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) will dedicate its new rescue boat on Tuesday, December 7, 2010, at 2:00 pm.  The dedication will be held at Portland Fire Station 21 located at 05 SE Madison at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge.  The public is invited to attend.

In the early morning hours of May 23, 2009, a tragedy occurred on the Willamette River near the Sellwood Bridge.  Two small children were thrown off the bridge resulting in the death of three-year-old Eldon Smith and injuring seven-year-old Trinity Smith, who survived.  Named the Eldon Trinity, this high-speed rescue vessel will recognize the children's bravery and protect Willamette River waterways for years to come.

Lacking a rescue boat dedicated to the Willamette River, it took PF&R's nearest fireboat 42 minutes to reach the scene.  The children were pulled from the river by bystanders who heard them enter the water.

"This incident clearly illustrated the difference between what fireboats are capable of doing and what assistance rescue boats can provide," said Fire Chief John Klum.  "The rescue boat will enable Portland Fire to provide high-speed response to water-related emergencies on the Willamette River and save lives."

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard, Fire Chief John Klum, and the Smith Family will be present to dedicate the new rescue boat at the ceremony.  In addition, Portland Fire's three fireboats - the Campbell, Buss, and Williams - will be present and deliver a salute of high-flying water during the dedication.

"We are thankful to the Smith Family - who has suffered unbelievable tragedy - for their openness and partnership in allowing us to name the rescue boat the Eldon Trinity," said Commissioner Randy Leonard.  "While this heartbreaking and unimaginable situation cannot be undone, the Eldon Trinity stands as a memorial to the life that was lost and provides hope for the lives that will be saved on the Willamette River in the future."

In 2009, PF&R responded to 186 marine-related emergency calls on Portland's waterways.  As a result of these numbers and this incident, Portland City Council authorized up to $400,000 to purchase a new rescue boat.  The boat is outfitted with a Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) system, donated by Fireman's Fund Insurance and Wells Fargo Insurance Services, that will enable firefighters to "see in the dark" allowing for quicker rescues at night or in bad weather.

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Media Staging:  Media is invited to begin setting up equipment at 1:00 pm adjacent to Station 21 at the boat dock.  Press packets will be provided.  A Public Information Officer will be on hand to facilitate tours of the new rescue boat prior to the ceremony.  At the conclusion of the ceremony, media is invited to board a fireboat that will shadow the new rescue boat down to the Sellwood Bridge.