BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) ––– With an all-new high water truck and a slew of new boats, the St. George Fire Protection District has stepped up its fleet ahead of hurricane season to ensure they are ready when disaster strikes.

One of the newest additions is a high-water truck, capable of carrying about twelve people.

“If we have a flooding event, we’re able to drive this vehicle in up to fifty inches of water to evacuate people from houses and apartment complexes,” said Chad Roberson with the St. George Fire Protection District.

Although other high-water vehicles are in use in the area, theirs features a lift-gate, making it easier to rescue people in wheelchairs. The vehicle was donated to the department by the St. George Firefighters Foundation.

Another addition to the rescue fleet is the boats.

“These particular boats are called our flat boats. They can go into a neighborhood; we can drop four boats and evacuate them out,” said Roberson.

Each boat also features wheels so responders can navigate changing water levels throughout their rescue missions. Roberson said these boats were purchased through a grant from Firehouse Subs. During the flood event in May 2021, the boats were used to rescue people from an apartment complex off Siegen Lane.

The sandbag machine is the newest piece of equipment that will help people before storms roll in. It is their first season with the new machine, but they are working on building up a supply before it is needed. With their tests so far, the machine can output around 500 sandbags in an hour. 

This new equipment will help first responders in their rescue efforts, but sometimes it may take some time for them to get to you, even when there is not a hurricane or a flood. They are offering the second round of their First on the Scene training. In just four hours, students learn how to recognize an emergency like a stroke or a heart attack, control bleeding, handle allergic reactions and overdoses, and perform CPR on someone in cardiac arrest. 

For more information on the St. George Fire Department, click here. For more information on preparing for potential natural disasters, click here.