Vancouver's new quick response boat on the Columbia River

Vancouver's quick response boat

In March 2014, the Vancouver Fire Department (VFD) welcomed a new all hazard quick response vessel, Discovery, to the Columbia River.

Named for Captain George Vancouver's ship, Discovery is one of three boats recently acquired with a federal Port Security Grant to help address gaps in the regional marine emergency response capabilities along the Columbia River. The other two boats are operated by Clark County Fire and Rescue and the Port of Astoria. All three boats will be used to respond to incidents on both sides of the river, between Lewiston and Astoria.

How will Discovery be used?

Vancouver’s boat will have multiple hazard response capabilities, including:

  • Water-based rescue and medical calls
  • Fire suppression on boats, docks and on shore
  • Search and rescue
  • Chemical/fuel spill response
  • Support during natural disasters, earthquakes or other large-scale incidents
  • Support for Hazardous Materials and Technical Rescue response operations
  • Law enforcement support
  • Dive team support

How much did Discovery cost and how was it paid for?

The boat cost $1,597,000, and was paid for entirely by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Port Security Grant. The 25 percent local match was also waived by the grant program, so no local funding was necessary.

How will ongoing maintenance and operations be paid for?

To date, the VFD has obtained funding commitments from local businesses along the Columbia River and throughout greater Clark County for operations and maintenance of Discovery totaling $370,000. To learn how to donate toward the boat's operations and maintenance fund, please call VFD Battalion Chief Steve Eldred at (360) 487-7206.



In 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard recommended a grant funded scoping project be undertaken to evaluate gaps and needed equipment in order to improve maritime security along the entire Columbia-Willamette-Snake River Marine Transportation System.

The scoping project included a third party review of the entire Marine Transportation System to evaluate existing capabilities and develop a regional approach for marine security and emergency response.

Among the recommendations developed from this coordinated scoping report was the acquisition of three rapid response vessels, two based in the Portland/Vancouver area and one based in Astoria.

Using smaller “fast attack” vessels instead of the larger traditional fireboats provides both tactical and economic advantages, providing a quicker and more nimble response to marine fires and other emergencies and costing far less to operate and maintain.


Vancouver's quick response boat on the Columbia River
Vancouver's quick response boat at speed - back view
Vancouver's quick response boat at speed - side view
Quick response boat pilot at the helm
Close up view of one of the water cannons on the deck of the boat
Vancouver's new quick response boat and the old rescue boat it is replacing
Vancouver's quick response boat with water cannons on