PORTAGE | Portage's new fire/rescue boat, launched just this summer, has seen its share of duty.
Fire Chief Tom Fieffer told the city council last week that the 36-foot Samuel E. Malerek, or Marine 1, has answered 10 calls so far this year. Of those, two were for boats in distress, one for a boat on fire and seven responses to possible or confirmed drownings.
Fieffer said on the weekend of July 8 and 9, when 15-year-old Portage resident Corey McFry drowned in Lake Michigan off the shores of Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the 15 members of the Portage dive team put in more than 250 man-hours in the rescue and recovery effort. Five other entities also were involved in the search.
Fieffer also reported that the fuel cost so far to operate the boat has been $1,291.
The city received the lake assault fire rescue boat funded through a $298,460 U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency port security grant.