Keeping You Safe on The Water This Summer

Moon over the water in Pohick Bay.

We have a lot of summer left and we have a lot of waterways in Fairfax County to enjoy, including 17 lakes and 80 miles of shoreline on the Potomac and Occoquan rivers. And just like on land, accidents, emergencies and crime can happen on the water. To keep our residents and visitors safe, both our Police and Fire and Rescue departments have marine patrols that enable our personnel to respond quickly when needed.

 

A Paramedic on Board
Photo of fire department boat on the water in Pohick Bay.

This boat can put out fires and save lives.

The county’s Fire and Rescue Department has the only public safety marine boat in our region with a paramedic on board, with many of the tools and supplies that are found on an ambulance. It also has the necessary equipment to put out fires on the water, with the capability to spray 3,000 gallons a minute. The boat patrols every weekend out of Pohick Bay and is staffed by Fire Station 20 in Lorton.

“We can provide life-saving procedures and first aid care to people on the water before we get them transported to land and into an ambulance.” Technician/Paramedic Shawn Fisher, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

 

Law Enforcement on the Water
Police boat on the water.

Marine Patrol’s 29-foot Safeboat

Our Police Department has the only full-time local law enforcement marine patrol in Northern Virginia and operates year-round. The Marine Patrol Unit enforces all state and local laws and ordinances on the waters in our county and also works collaboratively with all area jurisdictions to promote boating and water safety. The Marine Patrol Unit’s primary patrol areas include the Occoquan/Belmont Bay, Pohick Bay, Little Hunting Creek, Dogue Creek and Belle Haven. They also patrol Lake Braddock and Lake Barcroft.

The Marine Patrol Unit primarily operates a 29-foot Safeboat and can travel at a top speed of 55 mph. The unit also has a Carolina Skiff which can operate in shallow waters.

 

 Five Water Safety Tips

We hope the only time you see our boats is with a friendly wave as we pass by you. Please follow these safety tips when you go out on the water.

a group of people kayaking in the county.

 

  1. Make sure your personal flotation device (life jacket) is the correct size and is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard. That information should be noted inside the jacket.
  2. Have a plan for emergencies and be sure to tell someone not going with you about your plans. Bring plenty of water, snacks, cell phone and a VHF radio (they monitor channel 16) with you and know how to use it if in distress.
  3. Be sure your boat is sea-worthy before attempting to put it in the water. Too many people get stuck with bad gas, dead batteries, etc.
  4. Be sure to have the basic requirements for your boat! Every operator (all ages) is now required to have taken a boater safety course and must have proof. Each vessel (depending on size) is required to have a life jacket (that fits) for every person, a fire extinguisher, horn/whistle/bell and a throwable life preserver. There are other requirements depending on the size/usage of your boat as well.
  5. Boating while intoxicated is against the law and can get someone seriously hurt, or worse, killed. Please use your best judgment and do not operate your boat while intoxicated.

 

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