RIVERVIEW, N.B. -- Water rescues are not a common occurrence on the Petitcodiac River in southeastern New Brunswick.

“We get called out probably six to 10 times a year, in all months, straight through the winter,” says Mitch Short, deputy chief of the Riverview Fire Department.

However, when they do happen, water rescues pose a number of challenges for firefighters, especially if they coincide with the tidal bore.

The Riverview Fire Department’s new rescue craft, a $40,000 Zodiac, is half the weight of the boat it is replacing and has a rigid hull.

“It will take a lot more abuse with the rocks in the Petitcodiac. The Petitcodiac is zero visibility, so we can’t see what’s underneath the surface,” says Short.

The fire department has held training on the river twice a week for the last two weeks and every full-time firefighter will learn how to operate the Zodiac.

“We found the boat to work really well. It gets up on plain quickly. It has ample room for what we need to do on the Petitcodiac,” says Short.

Without a dedicated boat launch along the Petitcodiac River, the new, lighter boat allows firefighters to get it in the river safer and faster.

“Previously we would need a full crew, both on the engine and a few on the rescue truck, to get it in the water and out. With this, just the engine company can easily get it off the trailer and into the water,” says Short.