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Calgary Fire Department Bow River Patrols

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Calgary's Bow River has been patrolled by Calgary Fire Department and Police Department for a number of years. The fishing and paddle community has felt that it is an unnecessary expense that does little to improve safety on the river. With the City of Calgary squeezed for cash it is time to reconsider the benefits of an overreach to emergency services.

Calgary River Users Alliance (CRUA) sent the following open letter to Calgary City Councillors on Monday, July 15, 2109. It is hoped that river patrols will be discontinued.

https://www.calgaryriverusers.org/calgary-fire-department-budget-cuts-open-letter-to-calgary-city-councillors/

In May 2018 CRUA met with the Calgary Fire Department to discuss ways to open up city boat ramps to the public and also express our concerns with the speed at which river patrol boats operate on the river. We were informed that routine river patrols below the city limits ( Deerfoot Extension Bridge) would be stopped and to our knowledge have not been seen on the lower Bow River as often as in previous years. There have been reports on this website indicating that emergency service boats still patrol the Bow River and some times at excessive speed. If you encounter this  - video tape -  if possible and send details to my mailbox or post on this blog.

 

 

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It is pretty dumb that they 'patrol' with the boat. It's not like they're out their with their fire trucks roaming the neighbourhoods in the off chance they are needed. It actually made me laugh pretty hard when they complained to CBC about having one of three of their $70k boats parked for one whole day.

 

edit - love the double tap with operational and capital.. good way to approach it

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I couldn’t agree we you more!

I have contended for years that the greatest danger to public safety on the Bow River, is the City of Calgary Fireboat. A danger to wading anglers, pleasure tubers and muscle powered watercraft. I have personally witnessed these crews engaging in reckless behaviours on several occasions, including running small side-channels, downstream, at speed, on a hot summer day. They only narrowly missed mowing over a family out tubing by executing an emergency stop. 

If the department is facing budget constraints this is an obvious place to cut. Even if this wasn’t currently the case, the value of regular patrols is dubious at best. 

I totally support the Calgary Fire Department and the brave men and women that work for all of us; however, I do not support the current operation and use of their fire rescue boat, on the Bow River

Keep up the good fight!

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On 7/16/2019 at 2:43 PM, bcubed said:

It is pretty dumb that they 'patrol' with the boat. It's not like they're out their with their fire trucks roaming the neighbourhoods in the off chance they are needed. It actually made me laugh pretty hard when they complained to CBC about having one of three of their $70k boats parked for one whole day.

 

edit - love the double tap with operational and capital.. good way to approach it

I also laughed at the CBC report of the angst created by taking one of three fire boats out of service for one day! OMG how we survive?

Your analogy of firetrucks, roaming our neighbourhoods, in search of fires is right on!

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I've personally been put in a semi-dangerous situation because of that boat needlessly bombing around.

I had anchored in a calm back eddy to mess with some gear when I get a high speed  flyby. The giant wake made made me come un-anchored and before I could react I'm into the main fast current with my anchor dragging and hands busy. A bit of a scramble ensued but I recovered. This happened not just the once but twice in the same afternoon. I was a bit steamed as these guys were just cruising on our dime.

I'm fully supportive of emergency services and training exercises but this was just joy ridding. There's no need for that speed if it's a just patrol. Cops don't fly around with lights on running red lights just for fun. At least as far as I know.

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I found this blurb on navigation rules on a Gov Can website. As navigable waters is a federal jurisdiction, seems authoritative.

Shore-Line Speed Restrictions

When boating in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, please observe the unposted speed limit of 10km/h (6 mph) within 30 meters (100 ft) from shore. This limit applies on all waters within these provinces except where other limits are posted. These provisions do not apply in rivers less than 100 meters (300 ft) in width

Is the Bow less than 100 m in width?

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Depends where you measure it, which is why that legislation is a bit *hit 

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Having one less boat flying by and mudding up the shoreline with a big wake sure wouldn't hurt my feelings

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Here is a simple sign we can wear on the Bow. Only weighs about 50 lbs.

Ihl5ykD.jpg

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Wasn't there a story, maybe a year or two ago, about one of the rescue boats getting into trouble down at the weir/Harvey Passage? I remember the press reports mentioning civilians were on board and there were some tense moments before they were rescued. I have been in the side channels when they come flying through and thought to myself, how ironic, they are the most dangerous thing out here. That type of watercraft should only be used on the river for emergencies. Routine patrols on sunny days are more about enforcement and should be carried out with the stealth paddle craft afford. Seeing them operate that jet boat I understand why they aren't allowed within the city.

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A few weeks ago, I saw both the Calgary Police and Calgary Fire boats on the river at the same while I was fishing.  There was a very distinct difference in the way the Police boat was handled compared to the idiots in the Fire boat.  The Police boat looked like it was being handled by adults and was travelling at a reasonable speed paying attention to the other users on the river.  The Fire boat seems oblivious to other users and appeared to be intentionally driving at high speed by other users.  Not very good PR for Fire Department.

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1 hour ago, Eykster said:

I have been in the side channels when they come flying through and thought to myself, how ironic, they are the most dangerous thing out here. That type of watercraft should only be used on the river for emergencies. Routine patrols on sunny days are more about enforcement and should be carried out with the stealth paddle craft afford. Seeing them operate that jet boat I understand why they aren't allowed within the city.

Around the flood, they were "testing out the UHMW on the bottom", and jumping the boat over some of the side channel bits on Poplar Island during high water... Good thing we're not even supposed to wade over there.

It's a toy to them. Spend enough time on the river and you'll see them just spinning it in circles, taking bikini-laden women for rips, and then going for rips out of town just for the hell of it (no jurisdiction downstream of Deerfoot extender). Everyone should be taking videos of them being idiots and be sharing them widely... They cant even give out tickets without a peace officer on board, so the enforcement angle is bunk. Hell, the COs use small jet-skis and also run them quietly and away from anglers unless they're checking them.

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In total agreement with all the comments surrounding CFD river patrols. I got steamed when the rationale being portrayed for taking 1 fire boat out of service was budget constraints...total PR stunt. If the budget was truly an issue then maybe stop sending fire trucks to every medical call (that's what EMS is for).

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THis is the best news ever, I drift the upper /NW Bow a lot. There has been weeks where everyday the water pigs have pulled up aggressively asking about liquor, life vests and even a business license. 

I utilize auto-inflating PFDs in my drifter for myself and guests on one occasion I told the same officer that had questioned me 7 days in a row, "we are wearing the same vests we've been wearing all season and I can't imagine you see many boats like mine so one would think it would be safe to assume we don't need these aggressive checks daily"

The  officer responded with, "if you wore the normal red or orange hi-Vis PFDs like everyone else we wouldn't have this issue. what would happen to me, if someone drowned off your boat and I didn't check that day,"

 

Water pigs, probably rainbow anglers.

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On 7/20/2019 at 12:21 PM, Jayhad said:

 7 days in a row

And yet my phone remains silent 

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10 hours ago, bigbowtrout said:

And yet my phone remains silent 

Aug and sept I have a couple of open days on mondays, lets go

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The rescue crews need to train most every day. They need to know the river conditions at all times and be able to safely pilot their boats at high speeds in the event of an emergency. These are the folks we rely on to save our asses anytime, day or night, rain or shine, when every minute could be the difference between life and death. They get a friendly wave from me every time.

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What emergency makes them drive within 10 feet of me at full speed in a narrow side channel? They didn't even pretend to throttle back and pummeled me with their wake. I've had only bad encounters with the fire department boats. The less they're on the water the better unless they change their ways.

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