MAY 22, 2013 — The first of three high performance fireboats has started a two-week voyage from Kingston, Ontario, shipbuilder Metalcraft Marine through four Great Lakes and the Mississippi River to the Port of Houston. The new boats will equip the Port Authority's firefighting team with what it says will be the most sophisticated fireboat fleet in the world.
"As the nation's busiest port in terms of foreign tonnage and home to one of the world's largest petrochemical complexes, our firefighting team is second to none in protecting this national asset and the many who work here," said Port Authority Executive Director Len Waterworth. "These new fireboats will strengthen these firefighters' ability to save lives and property along the 25-mile long Port of Houston."
The five-member delivery crew includes three from the Port of Houston Authority's Fire Department. The crew will bring the new craft across Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to Detroit, Mich. (May 22) and then across Lake Huron and Lake Michigan to Chicago, Ill (May 25). From Chicago, the journey continues on the Cumberland River with a stop at Lockport, Ill (May 26). Following the Illinois River, the fireboat sails on to St. Louis, Mo (May 27) and the Mississippi River with four stops on the way to New Orleans, La (May 31): Cape Girardeau, Mo (May 28), Memphis, Tenn. (May 29), Greenville, Miss (May 30), and Baton Rouge, La (May 31). A final stop will be made at Galveston, Texas (June 1) before arriving at the Port of Houston on about June 1, 2013.
The voyage is being made by Port Authority Senior Captain Glenn Hood, a 14-year veteran of the fire department, and Engine Operators Robert Lacour and Vic Vasquez, each with 10 years at the Port Authority. The three are members of highly trained firefighters and Hazardous Materials Response Teams. The firefighters are certified by the state of Texas as structural, marine, HazMat, and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). All pilots and captains are licensed U.S. Coast Guard mariners.
The Port of Houston Fire Department currently operates four fire stations strategically stationed along the Houston Ship Channel. The personnel and equipment fight marine and land fires and respond to other emergencies in the upper ship channel.
The ship will be piloted by Captain Ron Peddle, an owner of MetalCraft Marine with 32 years of experience piloting ships and 34 years of building boats.
The boat has been built to Metalcraft Marine's new Firestorm 70 design and is is a state-of-the-art command center and high speed response vessel.
The new fireboats have powerful quad diesel inboard engines to give them a 45 knots top speed. The current fleet clocks in at 14 and 16 knots. Such an improvement in speed is important when providing fire protection for the 25-mile long Port of Houston.
The new fireboats are very maneuverable, can make quick stops and change direction within three boat lengths.
Part firehouse, part fireboat, the vessel enables the crew to stay on station for extended periods. The cabin includes a primary care berth with four secondary berths in the cuddy. Portable berths can be positioned in the aft equipment cabin to handle the injured at an incident.
Four firefighting pumps can produce flow meter results of 13,600 gallons per minute (GPM) at 150 pounds per square inch (PSI) and 17,000 GPM at 130 PSI and stream up to 450 feet with a roof mounted Stang monitor. This is three times the discharge rate of any of the current Port Authority fireboats. As a shore hydrant, the Firestorm 70 can pump an impressive 7,000 GPM at 70 PSI through 1000 feet of hose from a 5" Storz outlet before staging pumps are required.
Each fireboat is 70 ft 10 in long with a breadth of 22 ft 10 in and a draft of 34 in. Funds for these vessels come mostly from federal grants to replace the three aging fireboats commissioned in 1973 and 1983.
"The entire MetalCraft team is honored to have been given this contract by the Port of Houston Authority," said Michael Allen, General Manager of MetalCraft Marine. "Under the guidance of Project Manager Jay Milner and Design Manager Ryan Hunter, our team of craftsmen put in over 20,000 hours to build this industry leading fast response Firestorm 70.
"During the build process, we worked closely with many people from the Port of Houston Authority and got to know them well. It is obvious that they take great pride in their very important roles and we are proud to be building our most well equipped Firestorm for them. Our goal is to provide the perfect boat for each of our customers, and we hope the Port of Houston Authority feels we have succeeded."
MetalCraft Marine is a leader in the design and manufacturing of aluminum water-jet propelled craft with over 550 hulls built to date. The firm's customers include the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and Panama Canal Authority.