Hawai‘i Fire Department gifted 27-foot rescue boat for westside shores

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Hawai‘i Fire Department is celebrating the arrival of a 27-foot rescue boat after more than a year of working on funding with a local nonprofit.

On April 27, the Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation, dedicated to raising funds for equipment for the fire department, officially gifted and blessed the Radon vessel in Kailua-Kona.

Replacing a boat that is 30 years old, Hawai‘i Fire Deputy Chief Eric Moller said the new boat is equipped with radar and sonar and has a substantial motor, improving the department’s capacity to provide a stable and effective rescue.

“All of our boats have radar and GPS trackers but the sonar is new,” said Assistant Fire Chief Darwin Okinaka, adding a cruise control feature is also available.


The boat will be stored at the Kona station on a trailer giving first responders a faster response to any location along the West Hawai‘i shoreline.

Okinaka said the fire department has five boats in West Hawai‘i but only two are operational. One of the boats has been out of commission for nearly four years.

The new vessel will be the largest in the fleet and the most powerful. Okinaka said the department would like to replace the motors in the other two boats out of commission.


Moller said boats go out five to six times a month for different responses — swimmers or boats in distress — and there are also trainings conducted.

“Our rescue teams are some of the best in the state and having the equipment to match their skills is something critical to the safety of all our residents,” said Mayor Mitch Roth.

Roth thanked the Sayre Foundation for their continued commitment to the fire department. Through the nonprofit’s assistance, the mayor said the fire department has been able to drastically improve their “lifesaving capabilities and provide the best of the best equipment to the brave men and women of our department.”


Donors to the purchase of the boat include Marc and Lynne Benioff, Sarah Comerford for an anonymous Foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation, Tawny Hanakeawe and the Harbor House Restaurant, Jim and Sharon Skibby and Balbi Brooks.

Hoku Marine Builder Phil Hoyle constructed the boat and Rescue Capt. Chad Sohriakoff supervised the vessel’s build.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a full-time reporter for Pacific Media Group. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.

Tiffany can be reached at
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