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Pilots, Fire, Patrol

Oct 24, 2013 12:10 PM

Port of Houston gets new fireboats, Long Beach’s under construction

The Port of Houston Authority welcomed the first of three FireStorm 70 fireboats from MetalCraft Marine of Kingston, Ont., with a ceremony in the Houston Ship Channel.

Courtesy Port of Houston Authority

The Port of Houston Authority welcomed the first of three FireStorm 70 fireboats from MetalCraft Marine of Kingston, Ont., with a ceremony in the Houston Ship Channel.

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Next year will see the first of two huge new Robert Allan Ltd.-design fireboats for the Port of Long Beach that will dwarf any recent deliveries. Meanwhile, there has been steady demand for smaller fireboats, and yards are busy with new pilot and patrol vessels.

The boats for Long Beach, 108 feet in length, are under construction at Foss Maritime’s Seattle yard under a $51 million contract; the first delivery is expected in mid-2014. Kvichak Marine Industries is building the aluminum superstructures across the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Each boat will have 10 monitors capable of delivering more than 40,000 gallons per minute.

Propulsion comes from two Voith Schneider propellers in the forward half with 5.4-foot blades to allow access to shallow areas of the port. Two of the four fire pumps will be driven by the main diesels, and Voith says the boats will be able to make 75 percent of the propulsion power available for pumping.

The San Francisco Fire Department has been talking to shipyards about its plans to build a 90-foot fireboat with six monitors capable of delivering 16,000 gallons of water or foam per minute. The design is by Jensen Maritime Consultants, of Seattle.

Courtesy Moose Boats

Two fireboats from Moose Boats of Petaluma, Calif. The boats for Sandwich Fire Department in Massachusetts (above) and West Pierce Fire and Rescue in Washington State (below) are M2-37 cats with dual 1,000-mpg fire pumps, but West Pierce’s has an electrically operated bow door.

Courtesy Moose Boats/Jan Anderson photo

The department’s initial plans were delayed when a federal Port Security grant expired before it could award a contract, but it recently won a 2013 grant instead.“We’re shovel ready,” said Kyle Merkins, the assistant deputy chief who heads the department’s division of homeland security.

The most significant delivery of 2013 is a FireStorm 70 for the Port of Houston Authority, the first of three designed and built by MetalCraft Marine of Kingston, Ont. The vessel was delivered via the Great Lakes-Mississippi River system.

Fireboat 2 is 70 feet 10 inches by 22 feet 10 inches but draws just 34 inches for shoalwater operations. Its top speed is 45 knots, but MetalCraft says it can make quick stops and change direction in three boat lengths.

Four firefighting pumps produce 13,600 gallons per minute at 150 pounds per square inch or 17,000 gpm at 130 psi. A Stang monitor mounted on the house roof throws a 450-foot stream of water. When tethered to a shore hydrant, the pumps can deliver 7,000 gpm at 70 psi through 1,000 feet of hose before staging pumps are required.

MetalCraft has also delivered fireboats in the 30- to 40-foot range this year to New Haven, Conn., Pensacola, Fla., and Norfolk and York County in Virginia. A 36-footer for Redwood City, Calif., was scheduled for delivery at press time.

On the West Coast, Lee Shore Boats of Port Angeles, Wash., beat out MetalCraft and two other bidders to build a 30-foot aluminum fireboat for East Jefferson Fire Rescue of Port Townsend. The boat will have two 250-hp outboards for propulsion and a 330-hp 5.7-liter Chevrolet marine engine for pumping, with a capacity of 1,250 gpm at 15 psi.

A diverter system can split water between waterjet propulsion and a fire manifold and monitor so the boat can be operated without engaging the props, making the boat safer for divers and allowing it to operate in shallow water.

The fire department put the cost at $455,379. As with many fireboats, funding comes from Port Security grants. Delivery is expected early next year.

Moose Boats of Petaluma, Calif., delivered 37-footers this year to West Pierce Fire and Rescue in Washington and Sandwich Fire Department in Mass. Both have dual 1,000-gpm fire pumps; the West Pierce boat, whose area includes beaches in southern Puget Sound, has an electrically operated bow door. Moose Boats is also building for Richmond, Calif., and North Kingstown, R.I.

Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding of Somerset, Mass., expects to deliver a 64-foot fire/response vessel to Southeast Ocean Response Services of Charleston, S.C. in January. The boat will serve as a contingency response vessel to product carriers offshore, as a fireboat in Charleston Harbor, and as a backup pilot vessel.

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