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New Fireboat Named For Fallen Firefighter

CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) -- Weather permitting, Chicago will have a new fireboat later Monday.

As WBBM Newsradio 780's Bernie Tafoya reports, after a rainy and snowy morning, Chicago fire crews are awaiting their newest addition, and it carries a coincidence the father of a fallen firefighter thinks is fate.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780's Bernie Tafoya reports


The new fire boat weighs 300 tons and cost $8.5 million to build, the Windsor Star of Windsor, Ont., Canada, reported.

The fireboat is named for Christopher Wheatley, a 31-year-old Chicago firefighter who fell 35 feet off a ladder and died while he battled a fire at the Avec restaurant, 615 W. Randolph St., in August of last year.

Coincidentally, the boat was constructed in the town of Wheatley, Ont., Canada.

Christopher Wheatley's father, Daniel Wheatley, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he believes his son is sending a message that he is all right.

It replaces a 60-year-old fireboat, the Victor L. Schlaeger, which is being retired, according to the official Web site for the new fireboat.

The new fireboat was shipped out on Friday. The boat first demonstrated her 16,000 gallon-per-minute capabilities in the Detroit River, its Web site said.

The boat then made the trip up through Lake Huron and across the straits of Mackinac, then south down Lake Michigan to Chicago.

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