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The Racine Fire Department has asked the Common Council to greenlight a donation to be used to purchase a rescue utility task vehicle. An off-road vehicle, it is capable of going over rough, slippery, and challenging terrain.

“The fire department began researching Rescue UTVs in earnest last year following multiple drowning calls that occurred in Lake Michigan and the Root River,” wrote Racine Fire Department Chief Steve Hansen in a request to the City.

Technical rescue and dive rescue emergencies “pose an extraordinary risk to responders and to the public,” Hansen continued. “Access to the shoreline of waterways is often difficult and removing victims to an area of refuge can involve a long-distance traverse over unsteady terrain.

“In most cases, due to their compact size and off-road capabilities, a UTV can be brought much closer to the actual location of a technical/dive emergency than our front line fire apparatus.”

The fire chief added that an RFD-operated unit could be useful at public and civic events as well, “such as First Friday, Party on the Pavement, Racine Fourth Fest, and Prom to name a few.”

The RFD suggests that improving the efficiency of emergency operations is a “benefit to everyone who lives, works, or plays in Racine” that reducing the risk of injuries to first responders at complicated rescues is a benefit to the RFD personnel as well as taxpayers.

The grant of $24,000 from the Racine Community Foundation requires no matching funds from the City, but accepting it does require approval of the Common Council. A vote on that approval is on the agenda for Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.

Rex Davenport is a reporter, editor and editorial project manager with more than 40 years of experience in newspaper, business magazines and other content channels.