Fireboats

Regional Fireboats were gathered together at the Dedication of the Vancouver Fireboat “Discovery” on May 16, 2014 (pictures). The Vancouver Fire Department Marine Team provides rapid water response to fire, rescue and hazmat incidents along the Columbia River between Lewiston and Astoria. About 38 ships a month dock at the Port of Vancouver.

Regional marine-based firefighters include Portland Bureau’s fire station 17 on Hayden Island, the Mult Co Sheriff’s boat, the new Vancouver Discovery Fireboat, the PDX airport Fireboat, a Clark County Fireboat, moored at Ridgefield, and the Astoria Fireboat (“Trident”), which can be trailered to many locations.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office River Patrol Unit patrols 110 miles of waterways along the Columbia River, Willamette River, Sandy River and Multnomah Channel.The Columbia River Fire & Rescue serves approximately 200 square miles of Columbia County, including the towns of St Helens, Columbia City and the City of Rainier.


The Portland Bureau’s fire station 17 on Hayden Island has a couple of fireboats at their disposal, while downtown Portland has two diffrent Fireboat stations along the Willamette. The first, Station 06 at 3660 NW Front Avenue houses Fireboat 6 (Williams), Fireboat 6R (David Campbell), and Rescue Boat 6. The new Station 21, is on the east side of the Hawthorne Bridge. Portland Fire Station 21 houses the Eldon Trinity Rescue Boat, with a similar design to the new Vancouver Fire boat.

Vancouver’s new Discovery Fireboat is named after Captain George Vancouver’s ship, and is one of three boats recently acquired with a federal Port Security Grant.

Battalion Chief Stephen Eldred said he imagines the new Discovery fireboat will mainly respond to boaters in distress, house fires, body recovery operations and other more routine calls.

Vancouver’s current boat, a small patrol boat, is not equipped to fight fires and is used primarily for rescue calls.

The new Vancouver Fire boat was funded through a $2.7 million Federal Emergency Management Agency port security grant. Vancouver received $1.8 million from the grant. It also provided a boat to Clark County Fire & Rescue (below).

The third boat went to the Astoria, Ore., fire department.

So far, the Vancouver fire department has raised $400,000 to put toward any future costs for the boat. Eldred said the vessel should last 25 years before major expenditures are needed.

The new Vancouver fireboat has a fold down bow and a FLIR camera that can track a bobbing head in the water. Live “dash cams” deliver real time situational awareness back to the station.

Twin Scania DI13-77M diesels producing a total of 1,500 horsepower are coupled to Hamilton 364 waterjets to achieve speeds in excess of 32 knots. The fire pump system delivers a maximum 2,500 gallons per minute (GPM) to eight fire hose hydrants and three available monitors.

Discovery gives the Vancouver fire department a new ability to respond to incidents throughout the region, reports The Columbian.

The Clark County fireboat is moored in Ridgefield. The Vancouver fireboat is moored at the Christensen boat works, along side the super secret, autonomous (no humans) submarine hunter that is due to be ready next year.

A five-alarm fire destroyed the vacant Hayden Island Thunderbird on the River in 2012. The Sept. 2 fire caused $17 million in damages.

The company owed Multnomah County $1.12 million in property taxes, which had been unpaid since 2008, according to the county’s Assessment & Taxation department. The cause of the fire has never been resolved definitively.

In the last three years, the Vancouver Fire Department has averaged about 30 waterway calls a year. Oil and coal trains also pose an increased risk. The Portland Fire Bureau gets about 100 calls a year to rescue bridge jumpers in Multnomah County.

The Portland fire boat ‘David Campbell’ sprays its traditional red and blue for U.S. sailors during Rose Festival.

Portland Fire Bureau’s current fleet responds to over 300 emergency aid calls a year from boaters in distress, dive responses, ship and boat fires, debris removal, high water conditions, bridge jumpers and mutual aid calls. In 2014, PF&R will be receiving two new fire boats, one of which will be moored at the Hawthorne location. Oregon Iron Works is building the two new fireboats. The new, fast-response fireboats will provide emergency response on long stretches of both the Columbia and Willamette rivers and are expected to have a 20-year service life.

Portland has the largest floating home community on the West Coast, bigger than Seattle, with many tight-knit communities along the Willamette and Columbia including those around Sauvie’s Island and Scappose. Houseboats can be moved relatively easily while floating homes are defined as permanent residences.

Approximately 190,000 boats are registered in Oregon, with one-third of these registered in the Portland-metropolitan area. Oregon ranks 25th and Washington ranks 19th among nationwide boat registrations. All motorized boats, regardless of length or type, must be titled and registered. Sailboats 12 feet and longer must also be titled and registered.

The registration number generally appears as the state initials, followed by four to six numbers and then two more numbers or letters. For example, a boat in Oregon might have a registration that reads: OR 1234 AB.

The hull identification number (“HIN”) is required by law to be etched into the transom (back) of the hull of the boat. A HIN on a boat is very similar to a vehicle identification number found on a car.

BoatHistoryReport.com, BoatFax.com, HINValid.com and MarineTitle.com are meant to provide similar services such as CARFAX and AutoCheck.


NEXT: Fireworks

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