The Coon Rapids Fire Department is buying two boats to respond to emergencies by the Coon Rapids Dam.

The city had ordered a hovercraft, which floats on an air cushion and is unaffected by rocks, current, high-water flow or ice. But production delays led to canceling that $91,800 order, said Fire Chief John Piper. The department opted instead to buy two boats, whose combined cost will be $14,000 less.

Firefighters will use a 21-foot Zodiac with twin 60-horsepower motors above the dam. It cost an estimated $60,000 and is to be delivered in August, Piper said.

Below the dam, a 13-foot inflatable boat with a rigid hull and 25-horsepower jet drive will be used. The $18,000 boat has no propeller, enabling it to operate in shallow water, Piper said. It arrived last week.

The city has relied on pacts with neighboring cities that have boats and the Anoka County Sheriff's Department for river rescues since the Fire Department's 25-horsepower inflatable boat got too leaky to use last year.