Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Fire Department officials today dedicated the Department’s new $8.5 million fire boat and named it in honor of Firefighter Christopher Wheatley, who was killed August 9, 2010, fighting a fire in a restaurant on the City’s West Side.
“We need to remember Chris Wheatley the individual, because he was an extraordinary young man who left us too soon,” Daley said at the dedication, which was held at Burnham Harbor, 1559 S. Lake Shore Dr.
“But we also need to remember Chris Wheatley for what he more broadly represented as a member of the Chicago Fire Department. Like all our first responders, he willingly put his life on the line every day to uphold the law and protect the public safety of our residents,” Daley said.
The new fire boat is the first boat the fire department has purchased in 60 years. It joins the old fire boat, which will be kept as a spare and a fast rescue boat that is primarily used for water rescues.
The new boat will be berthed at the Chicago Marine Safety Station at the mouth of the Chicago River, where the Fire Department shares space with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Police Department Marine Unit and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The cost of the boat was $8.5 million, $5 million of which came from a Port Security Grant from the federal government and $3.5 million of which came from City funds.
The boat is 90 feet long, weighs 330 tons and has top speed of 14.8 knots, or 16 miles, per hour. It will serve the City’s 28 miles of lakefront, as well as the Chicago River, harbors and industry located along the water.
In addition, the boat can break up to 12 inches of ice. It will have a crew of five.
A big part of our responsibility in city government is to keep Chicagoans safe and secure and to be as prepared as we can be to manage emergency situations.
We have always taken justifiable pride in our ability to do this.
When it comes to emergency preparedness, Chicago has a history of innovation and a history of providing the police and fire departments with up-to-date facilities and equipment that make use of the most advanced technology to address emergency preparedness and security.
Daley called the dedication “especially meaningful” because of the connection to Firefighter Wheatley.
“Chicago could not function if it weren’t for Chris Wheatley and thousands like him who are willing to do a dangerous job so that the rest of us can live in safety,” Daley said.
“Keeping our neighborhoods and waterways safe and our city secure today is not an easy job. But through the committed efforts of men such as Chris Wheatley – well-trained personnel equipped with the latest technology and supported by an engaged and informed public, we are doing it,” he said.
# # #