PORTLAND — An investigation into the grounding of Portland’s new fireboat during a rescue operation in November has concluded that while the crash was preventable, the crew was operating within normal parameters and did nothing egregious.

Fire Chief Fred LaMontagne released the conclusions of his investigation Friday.

“The efforts and decision-making process was sound in judgment and properly focused on minimizing risk, making patient contact, and rescue,” the report begins.

The boat was in the channel between Peaks and Cushing islands, going the right speed and on the correct course to the mainland, it says. The crew was using all navigational aids, including Global Positioning System and radar, and its charts indicated the boat was in deep water.

The one-page document does say that the boat was not on a predefined course and passed too close to the day marker indicating the southern edge of the channel.

The investigation stems from the grounding Nov. 7 in Whitehead Passage, which caused $90,000 worth of damage. The city was responsible for a $25,000 deductible on the insured boat.

The fireboat, in service for just two months at the time, had to be taken to Rockport for repairs. It was returned to the city for use a week ago.

The department’s investigation couldn’t be finished until the boat was back in service and could be piloted through the passage, city officials said.

Soon after the crash, LaMontagne said details of what happened were part of an investigation that was confidential because it could lead to discipline.

The pilot of the boat at the time, Richard Wurfel, retired before the investigation was complete. LaMontagne said there will be no action related to him.

John Brooks, president of Local 740, the Portland firefighters’ union, said it appears that other boats have hit bottom in the spot where Wurfel did.

“Does it vindicate him? I think in a way it does,” he said. He said Wurfel’s retirement was unrelated to the accident.

The report concludes that a review of the navigational aids is needed at Whitehead Passage, and LaMontagne said he plans to meet with the Coast Guard to discuss it.

The investigation also says that in the future, at least one of the fireboat’s three Global Positioning System screens will be set to show the boat’s position relative to navigational aids.

It also says that when the boat is transiting a channel at night, with a sufficiently large crew, all navigational aids will be spotted and illuminated with a spotlight.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

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