Pittsburgh residents may see an emergency hovercraft zipping across the top of the three rivers this summer.
The city is seeking a Department of Homeland Security grant to buy a new hovercraft that will allow river rescue personnel to address two problems: how to safely approach riverbanks without puncturing their regular boats and how to deploy during water emergencies when the rivers are iced.
The 4-seat hovercraft would help rescuers in searches for dead bodies and assist in river rescue's regular work, mostly in the summertime, in responding to broken-down boaters, broken-free barges and security patrols, the city's deputy emergency management director Ray Demichiei said. In the winter it could travel across ice.
The hovercraft costs about $100,000 and would be covered by a $267,532 grant agreement with the federal government. The grant also would pay for new engines for the bureau's two regular river rescue boats.
The federal funds can only be used for port security, which is why they're being applied to the river needs as opposed to police, fire or other public safety vehicles, Mr. Demichiei noted.
If the grant is processed by its March 31 deadline and personnel are fully trained the hovercraft could be deployed by mid-summer.
Timothy McNulty: email@example.com or 412-263-1581. First Published February 13, 2013 12:00 AM