Have you got your SeaLegs???


On Saturday, May 7th 2011, a multi-agency water rescue drill involving multiple fire department water rescue & dive teams, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and other agencies was held at Cedar Beach in Miller Place (Long Island, NY). During the drill, the Ridge FD utilized a demonstrator water rescue craft known as a SeaLegs RIB, a “unyque” vessel equipped with hydraulic powered wheels that allow it to be driven virtually anywhere be it on the beach, over sand dunes, even through a backyard to access the scene of a rescue!!

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Special thanks to Suffolk FRES Deputy Commissioner John Searing for his hospitality in welcoming me to photograph the drill as well as Chief Anthony Morabito and the members of the Ridge FD for sharing their experiences regarding the SeaLegs.

The largest model offered measuring in at 20’ 10” long, the SeaLegs RIB is equipped with motorized retractable, steerable wheels to allow it to traverse any terrain and launch into the water without the need for a dedicated boat launch. Featuring an aluminum hull with 6 chamber inflatable tubes, it is equipped with 25” balloon tires on 9” alloy rims allowing to easily maneuver over any terrain. Power for the retractable wheels is supplied through an on-board 24 HP four stroke air cooled hydraulic power unit while in the water a 115 HP Evinrude outboard motor provides a maximum cruising speed of 48 MPH (with a total of 8 adults on board)!!

Who needs a boat launch??? With the SeaLegs RIB, simply drop the wheels as you approach shore, raise the outboard motor and rapidly exit the water (according to the crew, it takes a little practice).

With several departments operating different types of water rescue craft including a rigid inflatable, Boston Whaler and rigid hull boat, the Ridge FD which is evaluating the SeaLegs RIB for possible purchase had the opportunity to interface with these vessels to gauge the ease of operation in transferring victims. Due to the stability of the SeaLegs, crew members reported that the transfer was very smooth regardless of the size or type of vessel (even transfer to a land based Gator was easier due to the ability to lower the SeaLegs RIB once on shore).