A used fire boat is parked next to the West Gloucester Fire Station, a gift from the New Bedford fire chief.
The city of Glocuester, however, turned it down. Instead, Gloucester’s Community Emergency Response Team -- or CERT, a volunteer group that assists public safety during emergencies  -- now owns the vessel.  The deal was orchestrated in April by then-Emergency Management Director Miles Schlichte.
City officials said they didn’t have the money, manpower, or space to store or staff another boat. But when the city didn’t take it, New Bedford donated it to the CERT team in June.
Schlichte, a Deputy Fire Chief and the department’s liaison to the CERT program, said he moved the boat from Fuller School to the West Gloucester Station last week so response team members could clean out the boat.
The West Gloucester station, he said, offered water for them to hose it down, and CERT members planned on cleaning it out today. Firefighters, he said, aren’t going to work on it, as it’s strictly CERT’s project.
“It should be out within the week,” he said.
Schlicthe said New Bedford didn’t need a smaller, third boat, and that city’s fire chief, Mike Gomes, gave it to Gloucester.
The 25-foot vessel served as the port’s backup fire boat and saw limited duty there, Schlichte said. It has a small fire pump and dive ladder.  Schlichte said he brought the boat back with the intention that all departments could use it when needed.
But while the fire boat is in good condition, it’s not something the city really needs, said Waterways Board Chairman Tony Gross.
Neither the board nor the city’s harbormaster’s office were asked if they could fit it or wanted it before Schlichte brought it up from New Bedford, he added.
“Nobody was asked if we wanted it,” he said, “it’s a decent boat, but it just wasn’t something we were in need off,” Gross said.
The harbormaster’s office maintains three boats, and has a fire boat there as well. The police, he said, also have their own boat. Those boats require consistent maintenance, and Gross said the city didn’t have the staff or money for another.
Instead, said Carol McMahon, CERT’s program coordinator, volunteers will keep the boat running.
The boat, she said, will be available for city departments, from the Building Department to the Fire Department to use, while CERT will provide the boat and the driver. For example, she said, if police need it in a search, officers will do what they have to do on board, while a trained volunteer drives the boat.
“If any department needs to be out on the water, (they’ll) give me a call and I’ll see if I have any qualified volunteers available and supply the boat and a driver,” McMahon said.
The boat, she said, is a non-emergency use and doesn’t require the fire chief to deploy CERT volunteers. The system can run similar to the manner in which CERT volunteers staff road races.
CERT member Jamie O’Hara said the organization’s been looking for a boat for a while to help assist the public out on the water. Now that they have one, he said the group will work with Massachusetts State Police to receive proper search and rescue training.
The 40-member volunteer group McMahon said, has some funds to keep the boat maintained and moving. She added that it’s also in the process of becoming a nonprofit organization and will be able to raise money for it.
She added that CERT doesn’t have a place to store the boat right now. She said she’s working on a few places, but doesn’t have anything sure yet.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.