The Jersey City Fire Department
Puts their New Boat and their Marine Firefighting Training to the Test
Marine Firefighting Inc. conducted Shipboard Firefighting seminars for the Jersey City, NJ Fire Departmentt (FDJC). This training was requested at that time because FDJC was expecting the delivery of their newest piece of firefighting equipment. It was a new fireboat which was purchased with the help of a Homeland Security Grant. The boat is a 48' SeaArk Dauntless class firefighting vessel with twin 800 HP Caterpillar engines for propulsion and a 3,000 gpm Hale Fire Pump. It could put out that impressive volume at 150 psi. An internal, 100 gallon foam tank would also allow this impressive vessel to operate on Class "B" fires which could be a common occurrence in the marine environment.
A unique feature of this boat is the provisions for the installation of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive monitoring (C-BRNE). That was where the Homeland Security grant came in. In the event of a terrorist attack this vessel will be available to the government as a monitoring station.
The need for this training was recognized by the JCFD Chief of Dept. Frederick G. Eggers and his training officer, Deputy Chief Mike Terpak. They realized that you cannot just expect your Firefighters to jump aboard a new fireboat and operate with the same training and safety protocols they have been using at structural fires. Chief Terpak worked with us at MFI to set up a seminar program to cover the topics he felt were most important to the Jersey City area and the safety of his Firefighters. His concern for safety was continually brought out during the preparation for the seminar.
During class, the serious subject of Marine Firefighting can be dry and to keep the attention of the students we at MFI try to include some humor to bring home the subject. The firefighters were told that they should become familiar with some of the nautical terms used by mariners aboard ships. This is taught to aid communications while trying to gain valuable information from the crew. The Firefighters were told that while they were expected to learn some of the "shipboard jargon" they were not expected to become "old salty" mariners themselves. As is always the case with Firefighters, a joke is never far away. One student returned from a break with a little something extra on his shoulder to be "a little salty". (Photo above, right) He had already removed the pirates patch and head scarf before I could take the photo. (And people ask if I miss THE JOB since I retired in 2001. God I love this job!!!!!)
The seminar covered all aspects of Marine Firefighting which these Firefighters might have to face in the future.
After the seminar, and the delivery of the new fireboat, it didn't take long for them to put that training into practice.
In the spring of 2006 the JCFD Firefighters and their new Fireboat, (now named the "Joseph Lovero" in honor of a fallen JCFD Fire Dispatcher who made the ultimate sacrifice along with 343 FDNY Firefighters at the World Trade Center Attack of 9/11/01), were called to a major fire at a commercial facility on their waterfront. This would be the first actual test of their new fireboat and their newly acquired training. The fire involved a large commercial yard storing containers of compressed gasses. The Officer in Command recognized the serious safety issues and ordered the new fireboat to operate its 3000 gal capacity on this fire. Throughout our seminars we stress safety and not risking a life when there is no life AT risk. The Fireboat was set up to throw its large caliber streams from a distance to cover the entire fire area. This tactic limited the exposure of land based firefighters and perhaps saved serious injury.
After the fire was knocked down and the area secured it was discovered that this had been the best tactic after all. Large quantities of compressed gas were found not only in small storage tanks but also in large tanks and compressed gas trailers.
The photo on the left shows a trailer storing oxygen under pressure in the area of other portable tanks involved in the fire. While oxygen does not burn, it does support combustion and would have fanned the flames into an inferno in this area. Also, because it was under pressure there was also the danger of the tanks being heated and over pressurized leading to a tank failure. Both flame flare up and shrapnel from the exploding tank could have caught any firefighters who had been operating in the vicinity. Because the Fireboat was put into action, other Firefighters did not have to operate near this danger. The boat crew should be commended for a job well done. Their professionalism and adherence to safety measures taught during our seminars such as "Use the reach of your stream" controlled this fire in a minimum of time. More importantly it was also controlled with a maximum of safety. Great job guys.
The photo on the right shows another reason why it was good that the boat was able to operate from a distance and keep Firefighters out of danger. There is a sign to the left of the truck reads "Warning - Poison".
Whenever you have a fire where there is no known life hazard you must operate in such a way that you will minimize the risk to your own lives. Sometimes we must take risks but these should be CALCULATED risks.
Check out a video of the fire on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYZaJITyGs4
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Whether your Department has a Fireboat or not, your firefighters need the information from our Marine Firefighting seminars. You may get called into a ship fire in your port or it may be a fire on a ship that is just passing by or in a mutual aid response area. Firefighters on our inland waterways may have to contend with a "Tow Boat and Barge" fire with some of the same dangers of a ship fire. Even Departments with marinas and small boat traffic will need the information from our "Small Boat and Marina Fire" seminar. If your Department does have a Fireboat you may also want our seminar, "Handling Small Fireboats in emergency Situations". Click on any of the highlighted titles above to learn more about that seminar.
Why not contact us today. It could be tomorrow that your Firefighters will be called in to fight a marine fire.
The President of Marine Firefighting Inc., Tom Guldner is a retired 33-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department. Tom spent the last 10-years of his Firefighting career as the officer of FDNY's only full time fire/rescue boat and as the training officer of FDNY's Marine Division.
He also held a USCG 100 ton Master's License and is a nationally certified instructor. Tom has addressed both Firefighter and Mariner Conventions on all aspects of Marine Firefighting. In March of 2003 he addressed the Lloyds of London Conference "Fire on Ships" and was a participating member of The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers panel on Fishing Vessel Safety and Stability..
In 2002 Tom addressed the Work Boat Show in New Orleans, Louisiana and Professional Mariner Magazine's "MarCas Expo" in Baltimore, Maryland with a seminar entitled, "What To Do When Land-Based Firefighters Must Board Your Vessel" and another presentation recognizing the great job performed on September 11, 2001 by all the work boats in New York harbor. His seminars have also been delivered to Fire Departments, marinas, and commercial marine companies all over the USA.
If you have any questions for The Marine Firefighting Institute, or if you would like to schedule this training seminar for your company or Fire Department you can e-mail Tom Guldner at MarineFires@aol.com