MILTON — A Milton Fire Department rescue boat has a new purpose: enforcing no-wake zones.
The Blackwater Pyrates, a private organization, donated $5,000 to the city of Milton to upgrade the MFD’s rescue boat, according to Pyrates Captain, Ralph “Dragon” Palmer. The Milton Police Department will enforce the law.
The Blackwater Pyrates’ mission is river cleanup, maritime preservation and boater safety.
“We felt so strong in trying to help improve the waterways of the Blackwater River, to help slow people down a bit during special events, so we donated $5,000 to the city of Milton to help upgrade and improve the fire rescue boat into a patrol boat as well,” Palmer said.
The money paid for a removable tower with a canopy, a police light bar and a siren.
The city of Milton received the money in February. The MFD displayed the complete upgrades to the boat Friday. The boat now sports not only the MFD sign, but an MPD sign and Blackwater Pyrates logo as well.
This is not the first attempt to slow boaters on the Blackwater for special events.
During last year’s Great Mill Town Duck Race, the Pyrates’ lone fundraiser on the Blackwater River, boaters weren’t obeying recently implemented no-wake signs, Ken “Fins Up” Ponsell said during a city of Milton Executive Committee meeting in August.
MPD Capt. Tony Tindell at the time said, “(The Pyrates) do have valid concerns.”
“(The upgraded boat) is an improvement in our abilities …,” MPD interim Chief Capt. David Cox said.
Before, “If we had a water-rescue situation, we had no way to get to them, or if there was a stranded boater, we had no way to get to them.”
Now, “when it gets congested on the Fourth of July, what we’re going to do is get everybody to slow down some and be more courteous,” he said.
Look out for the boat during this year’s Fourth of July festivities on the Blackwater River.