Indian Lake got smaller this past weekend.
The shrinkage is not likely to be noticed, however, until there is an emergency on or around the lake, be it on the water itself, at one of the cottages that dot the several islands scattered about the lake, or a house with frontage and direct access to the water.
That’s because the Lakeview Fire Department has a brand new motor for Boat 61, a rescue watercraft used by the LFD for any of a score of emergencies that occur on or near the water. The motor ended up on Boat 61 thanks to Honda Transmission Manufacturing, which recently donated the fresh-off-the-line engine to the LFD to mount on Boat 61. The new motor will make the lake “smaller” by cutting way back on the response time by Boat 61 from the dock to the site of the emergency.
“We can get more personnel and more equipment to where we need it a lot faster,” said Lakeview Fire Chief Norm Spring of the brand-new Honda BF150 VTEC that now powers Boat 61. “Twenty-five miles-per-hour faster,” he said with a grin.
All volunteer fire departments know how difficult and expensive it is to keep land-based firefighting vehicles and equipment in serviceable condition, but Chief Spring has the added responsibilities of having a 5,800-acre lake sitting a quarter-mile from his fire station. That adds a whole new layer of expense as a good part of the LFD rescue vehicles have to come with propellers.
The LFD’s Boat 61 is a pontoon that was donated to the department 15 years ago. The boat had to be converted into rescue watercraft by the volunteer firefighters and EMTs, who have been wrenching and ratcheting on it ever since to keep it on the water and in service. There is an old adage which states that ‘boat’ is simply an acronym for ‘bust out another thousand’. Chief Spring would be the first to testify to the truth of that statement.
“(The volunteers) have been working on it from the beginning,” Spring said of Boat 61. “They put a lot of time and effort in keeping it in the water and have done a great job with it from day one.” But while the boat itself was and remains in good condition, the aging motor was on its last legs, and it was clear that either Boat 61 got a new motor or it would end up tied to the dock permanently. “It got to the point where we could only do so much with the engine,” Chief Spring said.
Running out of options on where to scrape up the capital for the sorely-needed motor, on a whim Spring contacted Honda Transmission Manufacturing, which is located about two miles due south of Indian Lake. He explained his problem with the HTM associates and said that if there was anyway HTM could help, both he and the people of the Indian Lake area would be appreciative.
It turns out that HTM just happens to have connections with companies that build and manufacture motors of all sorts, namely Honda, which just happens to have a division known as Honda Marine, which just happens to manufacture outboard motors of various sizes, including a model that just happens to fit Boat 61 like a dream. Mike Fagen, who was representing HTM on the cold and blustery day that the new motor on Boat 61 was “officially’ unveiled, said that the company’s decision to kick up a new motor rescue watercraft for a local fire department was not really given a second thought. It was done, Fagen said, as a matter of course.
“Part of our core values at Honda are to make a positive impact on the communities which we’re part of,” Fagen said of the donation. “This is a great example. We want to be good neighbors and to have neighbors who want us to be around. We saw that there was a need and we did our best to help out.”
Shortly after Chief Spring’s presentation, calls were being made from to HTM to Honda Power in North Carolina. The appropriate forms were signed, the orders were placed, and the high-sign was given. Six months later, about $15,000 of Honda Marine technology (which is remarkably similar to the engines that are used in Civics and Accords) is doing great service to the residents of Indian Lake, courtesy of HTM.
“We can’t thank them enough,” Chief Spring said of the associates of HTM who ponied up the motor for Boat 61. “This will make a difference in lives right here.”
Tom Stephens is a regular contributor to this newspaper.