South King Fire & Rescue (SKF&R) announced this week that it has received final contract confirmation of a $750,000 appropriation in the 2020 State Operating Budget to pay for a portion of a new Maritime Emergency Response Vessel (MERV) (Fire / Rescue Boat).

These funds will be used to replace their existing MERV – Marine 367 – which was built in 1985 and needs replacement. This funding is through a grant from Washington State and was included in the Operating Budget that was passed shortly before the Legislature adjourned in 2020.

After delivery of the vessel and all required new training is completed, the vessel will be ready to go “in service.”

“Success takes teamwork,” Fire Chief Vic Pennington said. “We are very thankful for the leadership of our excellent Legislative delegation in the 30th and 33rd Districts. Each of those legislators worked together to get this item in the budget. Without the efforts of Representatives Tina Orwall, Mike Pellicciotti, Jesse Johnson, and Mia Gregerson– along with Senators Karen Keiser and Claire Wilson – this appropriation would not have happened. We also had strong support from the Cities of Des Moines and Federal Way. Replacing Marine 367 will help save lives and protect property for those who live in our Fire District and for those who travel on Puget Sound.”

“We appreciate the new way that Chief Pennington is approaching issues,” Commissioner Chair Bill Gates added. “He decided to go after State funds for the first time and it worked. This makes a lot of sense because this fireboat is really a regional asset and will also help people who aren’t taxpayers in our district.”

This new MERV is the only such vessel that is based in the busy waterway between Seattle and Tacoma. It will allow us to continue our 30-year partnership with the Coast Guard on providing emergency response services in this area. These responses range anywhere from swimmers in distress, ferries or other vessel in distress, shoreline fires, crises on Vashon Island, and even the possibility of a downed aircraft in the water. This vessel will be moored at Des Moines Marina and will be closer to SeaTac Airport than any other MERV.

The 38 foot “Defiant” model vessel from Metal Shark will cost a total of over $1 million. Metal Shark is a leading boat manufacturing company that specializes in military, law enforcement, fire and rescue vessels, and has an outstanding reputation for quality products. The estimated production time frame is 240 days from time of purchase. The new boat will be a big improvement over the technology from 1985. The new MERV’s firefighting capability, for example, will be 3000 Gallons Per Minute (GPM) and it can shoot water 400’. That is higher than the tallest container ship or cruise liner traversing Puget Sound’s waterways. Currently Marine 367’s capabilities are only 300 GPM and 100’.

The Marine Team responds from Station 67 located in Des Moines, Wash. to the Des Moines Marina and serves the greater Puget Sound region between the cities of Tacoma and Seattle. The Marine Team is comprised of 13 certified marine pilots, supported by a number of trained deck hands, and is led by South King Fire and Rescue Captain Jerry Clos.

“On behalf of the Marine Team I would like to say thank you to our administration, our local community partners and our regional partners for their support in making this possible. This new vessel will allow us to increase our capabilities of providing professional maritime emergency services that our community members have come to know and expect,” said Captain Clos.

The upgraded technology and capabilities will require training and familiarization for all personnel responsible for responding on the vessel. After training is complete the vessel will then be allowed to go “in service” and start protecting the waterways of the Puget Sound. This regional asset will serve the community for decades to come.