Two local businesses recently donated four kayaks to the Warren County Fire and Rescue Service.
John Gibson of Downriver Canoe Company donated two green kayaks and Don Roberts of Front Royal Outdoors donated two orange kayaks after hearing about the challenges rescuers face, according to a press release from the Fire Department and safety.
The department has seen an increase in the number of non-traditional water rescue incidents as the pandemic has resulted in a “dramatic” increase in tourism activities on the Shenandoah River, the statement said.
The kayaks will help the department respond to low water levels, firefighter and water rescue specialist George Lewis Jr. said in the statement.
âDue to fluctuations in water levels, normal lifeboats and rafts cannot navigate in shallow water,â Lewis said. “The only way to find the river is to use low volume boats such as kayaks.”
The water rescue program protects more than 20 miles of the Shenandoah River, several ponds and rural water sources, the department’s website says. The ministry operates three on-water response boats at its stations and one additional vessel as part of the Special Operations Response Team.
Fire Chief James Bonzano said in the statement that the kayaks will be strategically positioned to better serve the community.
“These generous donations will allow our emergency responders to navigate and research rivers during low water levels in a safe and efficient manner,” said Bonzano.