- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—LAWRENCE — Justifying its immediate need in the city, a 17-foot, flat-bottom boat was used by firefighters to investigate a report that a person may have jumped off the Falls Bridge earlier this month.

“It’s already been on a call,” said Fire Chief Brian Moriarty as the department’s new aluminum boat was officially unveiled late Monday morning on the banks of the Merrimack River.

At Moriarty’s request, the boat was given to the Lawrence Fire Department through a government surplus program.

If the city had to purchase such a boat outright, Moriarty estimated it would cost roughly $20,000.

After becoming the city’s new fire chief in March, Moriarty said firefighters told him they needed a flat-bottom boat to access the shallow and rocky waters underneath the Falls Bridge.

The bridge, which sits next to the Great Stone Dam, carries drivers on Broadway (Route 28) over the river.

“When I got here the troops told me they needed a good boat to get under there,” Moriarty said.

So the chief wrote a letter to the Massachusetts Forest Fire Control’s District 5 division, outlining the need for a new patrol boat.

Once the boat, a Sea Ark, was delivered to the city, Fire Department mechanics got it in working order and added emergency lighting.

Brush Stroke and Design, a private company in Lawrence, donated and applied labeling on the boat, increasing both visibility and safety, Moriarty said.

At Monday’s unveiling, Mayor Daniel Rivera described the boat as a great way to reuse government resources.

“This is literally a lifesaver,” said Rivera, adding the boat is now in the city as a result of great teamwork.

State Fire Control District Warden Andrew Reagan, along with State Representatives Marcos Devers, D-Lawrence, Frank Moran, D-Lawrence, and State Sen. Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover, all attended the unveiling.

Moriarty noted the importance of government surplus program, especially at a time when public money is limited.

“It’s not a gigantic step, but every little bit helps,” Moriarty said.

Firefighters now are regularly conducting training with the new boat, he added.

¢¢¢

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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(c)2015 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.)

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