Portland Fire & Rescue boats receive Chinuk Wawa names

07.21.2015 Dean Rhodes Culture, History, Public Safety

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

In the near future, Portland Fire & Rescue fire boats with Chinuk Wawa names will be traversing the Willamette River under a bridge with a Chinuk Wawa name – Tilikum Crossing.

Tilikum Crossing is already constructed and awaiting its Sept. 12 grand opening, and Portland Fire & Rescue’s new twin fire boats – kwansfm and skukum ats – will be plying the river’s waters in about three months after crews are trained on them.

The 55-foot-long fire boats, christened on Thursday, July 16, received Chinuk Wawa names to honor the original peoples who lived and worked along the rivers that Portland Fire & Rescue serves, states a press release.

In partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and Cultural Education and Outreach Program Manager Kathy Cole, as well as historian Chet Orloff, the names were selected to reflect Portland Fire & Rescue’s motto and mission.

The kwansfm (“always,” “forever” and “all the time” in Chinuk Wawa) reflects the department’s motto of “Always Ready, Always There” and skukum ats is the kwansfm’s “strong sister.”

Each of the boats can travel faster than 40 knots and has the pumping capability to 8,000 gallons per minute for both firefighting and water supply.

Each vessel has state-of-the-art electronics and communications for command and control at large incidents, and crews are being trained to respond to and assist with marine fires and hazardous materials incidents, and perform technical rescue, support dive efforts, support law enforcement, environmental mitigation response, and natural disaster response and recovery efforts.

The boats were constructed in Portland by Oregon Iron Works and each one cost about $2.5 million, bond money Portland residents approved in 2010.

Tribal Council member Jon A. George attended the afternoon christening event and presented a Tribal necklace to Portland Fire & Rescue Marshal Erin Janssens.