Selectmen have authorized the town to use roughly $54,000 in public safety impact fees to purchase a rescue boat for the fire department.
The 19-foot, commercial-grade Boston Whaler boat would increase the public safety coverage in town, allowing impact fees to be used, Salem Fire Chief Kevin Breen said at Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting.
Breen said the boat includes a door that could be lifted out to open the boat to water level, allowing rescuers to more easily pull someone to safety.
In the June drowning death of a Windham man in Shadow Lake, Breen said rescuers were unable to lift the victim into the boat to begin life-saving efforts before reaching the shore.
"That was a big concern of ours," he said of the easy-access door. "This boat has the ability to, right at the water line, remove a door so you can effect a rescue or recovery and not worry about having sufficient personnel to actually lift someone up and over."
Forty-percent of the water rescues in Salem are conducted at Arlington Pond, Breen said, and the boat would likely be stored there.
Selectmen voted unanimously to allow the town to expend impact fees for the purchase of the boat. Selectman Michael Lyons voted by telephone.