Fairbanks Firefighters train with boats for river rescues

Nick Clark and Zac Rittel pilot the Fairbanks Fire Department riverboat down the Chena River in Fairbanks, Alaska. (John Dougherty/KTVF)

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Fairbanks Fire Department (FFD) spent Sunday afternoon on the Chena River training with a riverboat and powered raft as they practiced boat handling skills.

"We have to be ready to respond for fires, motor vehicle accidents, to ambulance calls; but we are also responsible for water rescues and helping people out on the river,” said FFD Driver Nick Clark.

According to Battalion Chief Scott Raygor, because there is a major river going through Fairbanks that people recreate on, accidents can happen and they need to be prepared to help. To do this they need practice.

"We have to be, again, ready and familiar with our water here and ready to respond in case an emergency comes up,” Clark said.

The training they did on Sunday is part of their annual river training.

"Every year we try to get out on the river to practice our riverboat skills. We have a lot of new people every year, a lot of them don't have any riverboat experience, and it's just a good thing to get out as we roll into the summer months," Raygor said.

Sunday they focused on operating the riverboats and navigating the river. Raygor said they will later work on rescuing people who have fallen in the water.

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