New Rescue Raft Added to Ft. Smith Fire Dept.

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The Fort Smith Fire Department now has a new Zodiac rescue raft just in time for Spring rains.

It’s powered by an outboard motor with a shrouded prop which lets them get into very shallow water that they can't reach with a larger rescue boat.

Battalion Chief Terry Graves says this would have been a very useful tool in a previous body retrieval in shallow water near the Arkansas River.

“You could see it from the river, but because of the levee, we couldn't get our big boat into the area so we required a small boat and the one we have now is a little bitty flat bottom and it's not quite as stable as this craft here is,” he said.

The raft will also be very useful if they're called out to evacuate people from flooded homes, Graves said.