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Utica to purchase rescue boat ahead of flood season

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 18, 2020

 The Utica City Council approved a request to purchase a Rapid Deployment Craft at its Feb. 11 meeting. The Fire and Police departments will be trained to use the craft.

The Utica City Council approved a request to purchase a Rapid Deployment Craft at its Feb. 11 meeting. The Fire and Police departments will be trained to use the craft.

Photo provided by Gus Calandrino


UTICA — After recent flooding in a neighborhood in downtown Utica, the city has decided to purchase a rescue boat ahead of flood season in order to prepare in case of any future emergencies.

At the city’s Feb. 11 City Council meeting, the Fire Department requested to buy an inflatable rescue boat that both the Fire Department and the Police Department would be trained to use.

“The (fire) chief is requesting we be able to purchase this item, one on behalf of the Police Department and … on the behalf of the Fire Department, noting that both departments would be fully trained in the utilization of this water rescue craft as well,” said Utica Mayor Thom Dionne.

The City Council approved the Fire Department’s request to purchase a boat called a Rapid Deployment Craft, or RDC, from Oceanid in Washington state through Michigan Rescue Concepts.

Oceanid is a water rescue equipment design company that works with many fire, police, and search and rescue organizations.

The boat the city is purchasing will cost $4,500 and will include a carrying bag, floor top carpet, two paddles, a paddle bag, tow strap assembly, air fill manifold and a repair kit.

There will be no shipping cost to the city, and the company will come out and demonstrate the boat to the departments.

Utica City Councilman Gus Calandrino said the city did not need to make an amendment to make the purchase.

“Funds needed to purchase the water rescue craft were available in the current budget. The city did not have to amend the budget or tap into general fund reserves,” said Calandrino.

The cost will be split between the Police Department and the Fire Department. Funds will come from the Police Department’s equipment fund, and the Fire Department will reallocate funds from the clothing allowance to its equipment fund.

The Rapid Deployment Craft is a 15-foot, fast-response, ice rescue craft that surrounds one or more rescuers in a buoyant and protective inflated perimeter. The RDC allows a rescuer or rescue team to quickly reach a victim and safely retrieve them through the ice or cold water.

The craft can also be easily carried to the edge of ice and run out across the ice to reach a victim. While on the ice, rescuers are protected from falling through a fracture into the water. In a combination of ice and an open water situation, the RDC can be paddled across open water or broken ice and water by one or two rescue technicians.

The RDC is designed to withstand severe use for many years. A five-year warranty is available if the city chooses to register the product.

Flooding in certain areas in Utica prompted the decision. This will be the city’s first purchase of a rescue boat.

Calandrino said the city needs a rescue boat of its own so that it can better respond to water emergencies. Recently, a flood occurred and emergency personnel were unable to reach a location safely due to high waters.

“The city needs a means to respond to water emergencies. We have recurring flooding on Davis Drive and Greeley Street. The Clinton River runs through our city, and we are seeing more and more recreational kayak use. This RDC is relatively inexpensive, easy to deploy, and fits the needs of our city. It’s important to have this craft available soon, as spring and the flooding season are fast approaching,” said Calandrino.

According to the city, the boat was planned to be delivered Feb. 17, after press time.

For more information, call the city of Utica at (586) 739-1600 or visit