By Police1 BrandFocus Staff
Even in these post-COVID days, if you need to buy a new car fast, you can usually get one from a dealer relatively quickly. You only have to wait for months on end if there’s something specific you want in the car, like a rarely chosen color or options package.
Mindful of the convenience and speed this approach provides to car buyers, Fluid Watercraft of Fort Lauderdale, Florida is applying the same customer-focused model to rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) for police, fire and other first responder agencies.
The company manufactures three sizes of RIBs − the open cabin 21’ Patrol 21, the 25’ 7” Patrol 26, and the 28’ 11” Patrol 29 (which is also available with a closed cabin) − to cover a full range of waterborne missions. But unlike other RIB manufacturers who don’t build until they get orders, Fluid Watercraft always has some of each boat built and in stock – available for delivery in 30 days or less.
“When a RIB builder like Fluid Watercraft adopts the lessons of the automobile industry, the customer wins,” said Boyd Tomkies, CEO of Fluid Watercraft. “By building three models based on a common design and always having some in stock, we can provide our first responder clients with the RIBs they need in 30 days or less. In contrast, the competition’s bespoke models mean that first responders can wait months or even years to get their RIBs, and at higher prices than ours since Fluid Watercraft’s standardized approach keeps our costs down. The resulting savings are passed on to our customers.”
For the record, the Patrol 21 is ideal for patrolling river tributaries where wave swells aren’t an issue. Of course, this is not the case on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway, which is where larger RIBs like the Patrol 26 makes sense. Meanwhile, the Patrol 29 is the best choice for oceans and other large bodies of water where the waves and swells can get really big.
It isn’t just the time required to build one-off RIBs that slows down the procurement of these vessels. It is the paperwork as well.
“Every department has different rules on procurements,” said Tomkies. “Some have to go ‘out to bid.’ Some have to be a low bid. However, because we’ve standardized our RIBs and there are no variations, we’ve been able to register our products on the GSA (General Services Administration) Advantage section of the federal government’s 1122 Program and CO-OP Program. This makes it fast and easy for local and governments to purchase our boats.”
Five more benefits to customers
Fast delivery is not the only benefit that Fluid Watercraft delivers to first responder agencies. When an agency chooses the company’s rigid inflatable boats for its waterborne missions, they are choosing vessels that are stable and nearly unsinkable. This is because the air-filled tubes that provide the RIB’s sides and bows not only provide unmatched buoyancy compared to fully hulled boats, but they provide safety as well. The reason? The tubes act like life preservers, keeping RIBs afloat even when their interiors have been flooded by waves. (A sobering thought: If the Titanic had been a RIB, it would have stayed afloat after side-swiping the iceberg.)
Fluid Watercraft’s RIBs are also extremely lightweight while being incredibly tough and durable. This reliable ruggedness comes from the company’s use of Gemini Marine fiber-reinforced composite laminate hulls, military-grade removable ORCA Hypalon tubes, and EPA/ABYC/USCG-compliant components and structures. These are boats that can be relied on in all kinds of weather.
Buoyancy, minimal weight and toughness are three benefits associated with Fluid Watercraft’s RIBs. Standardization is a fourth.
“Because we use a common platform, it is easy for agencies to have fleets of RIBs that are cost-effective to maintain and easy to train on,” Tomkies said. “If you have been trained on one Patrol 21 RIB, you know how to operate them all − and learning to run a Patrol 26 or 29 isn’t a big stretch. This keeps training costs down and staff skills up, because they’re always basically working on the same RIB platform.”
Capability is yet another benefit. “Each of our RIBs comes fully loaded, which means they come outfitted with everything first responders need to work on the water,” said Tomkies. “For instance, we have spine boards integrated into our boats. Fluid Watercraft’s RIBs also have standardized storage containers for storing safety equipment, flares and everything else you need on the water, in compliance with applicable regulations.”
The timely choice for first responders
When you put all the benefits together, Fluid Watercraft’s RIBs are the right choice for a first responder agency, and indeed for anyone who needs safe, reliable, and high-performing boats that can operate in the worst of water and weather conditions.
“Better yet, we can get you the RIBs you need in 30 days or less,” Tomkies said. “Often we do it sooner. For instance, the Miami Fire Department called me on a Monday morning, and we delivered their RIBs 21 days later. Let that sink in: When Fluid Watercraft promises RIBs in 30 days or less, that’s a promise you can count on.”
Learn more about Fluid Watercraft and their RIBs here.