The Secaucus Fire Department, in Hudson County, N.J., placed a 28-foot Lake Assault Boats firefighting and rescue craft into service earlier this summer. The department’s firefighting and emergency response area includes a large portion of the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers (and their 28 bridges) that empty into Newark Bay and the Hudson River.
“We’re located in a somewhat landlocked part of the river system, so our new fireboat has to be versatile and self-sustaining in case of a major incident,” said Fire Chief Carl Leppin, a 22-year veteran of the department and chief since 2014. “With help from Lake Assault Boats, we were able to customize the design to meet our needs. And their response to requests, and overall excellent customer service, are very important to us.”
The Secaucus Fire Department is a member of the New York and New Jersey Regional Fireboat Taskforce, comprised of 12 fire departments, including FDNY and the U.S. Coast Guard. This is the first fireboat taskforce of its kind in the country, and its combined team protects over 50 miles of New Jersey shoreline containing transportation hubs, transfer facilities, manufacturing plants, and other critical infrastructure.
“We’re thrilled to have one of our craft serving with the Secaucus Fire Department on such a critically important waterway,” said Chad DuMars, Lake Assault Boats vice president of operations. “This custom engineered vessel features fast response combined with capabilities to address a wide range of emergency scenarios.”
The boat’s landing craft style hull sports a 63-inch hydraulically operated bow door (with an integrated ladder for diver re-entry) and flat tread areas for ATV deployment. The boat also features a clear opening dive door, swimmer’s grab rails, a davit crane, and a floating stokes basket for faster patient retrieval from the water. It is powered by twin 350 hp outboards that enable the boat to reach 50 miles per hour in open water conditions.
The full-width, fully enclosed pilothouse is located mid-ship with deck space both fore and aft. The vessel is equipped with Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRNE) positive pressure defense capabilities. The helm station carries controls for both fire pump and monitor controls, as well as two 12-inch touchscreens with GPS, Sonar with SideVu and DownVu, chart plotting, and a roof-mounted forward looking infrared (FLIR) video camera.
The boat’s draft is just 28 inches when the motor is trimmed up and 32 inches when trimmed down, an important consideration for the department. “The department’s previous boat needed a full five feet of draft to safely maneuver, so our new boat can reach much closer to shore in low tide situations – and that’s a huge benefit. Our team loves the new craft,” Chief Leppin added.
For its firefighting operations, the boat is outfitted with a 1,500 gal/min fire pump powered by a dedicated 350 hp marinized V-8 engine. The craft features deck and bow mounted monitors, a foam system, and a five-inch large diameter hose discharge to support ground based firefighting operations. Other notable features include a full complement of LED floodlights, warning lights, scene lights, and remote-controlled spotlights.
“We applied for a Federal FEMA Port Security Grant three years in a row, and this year we were approved,” said C