DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — After trying to obtain a rescue boat for 10 years, the Liberty Fire District has received a donated vessel from Progressive Insurance.

The boat was damaged during Hurricane Michael and titled to the insurance company. The damaged boat was then repaired and given to the Fire District.

Assistant Fire Chief Tony Roy said Liberty gets at least a couple calls each year for a water rescue. He said the new boat has been a long-term need of the department, but other gear was considered a greater priority.

According to a press release from the Liberty Fire District, the search-and-water-rescue boat is expected to save lives in the community and in other areas of the Panhandle. The boat will also free up Liberty from having to go to another department during an emergency.  

Fire District commissioners plan to purchase gear such as a medical bag, backboards, search lights and safety gear for the boat by spring, the press release said.