The Fireboat Fire Fighter Museum has announced that preservation efforts for the fireboat are officially underway. Now in her 85th year, Fire Fighter is undergoing extensive renovations to return the vessel to her original glory.
Escorted by the United States Coast Guard, as well as local fire departments, the crew recently sailed the iconic fireboat from her home at the Mystic Seaport Museum to the Goodison Shipyard in Quonset Point, RI.
“Thousands of visitors tour Fire Fighter annually,” explains Charlie Ritchie, President and Director of the Fireboat Fire Fighter Museum. “These much-needed renovations will enable Fire Fighter to continue operating as an important resource in educating future generations about the ship’s modern fireboat design, and the story of American firefighting.”
Capital improvements for the vessel are the result of extensive fundraising efforts. The Fireboat Fire Fighter Museum, an all-volunteer organization, successfully secured both a generous grant from the RL Gardner Foundation of Riverhead, New York and a federal Save America’s Treasures grant.
Although these preservation efforts are now underway, additional fundraising is still needed to complete the capital improvements and to cover ongoing operational expenses. Companies within the fire protection industry are currently being sought to underwrite the remaining costs with donations or gifts in kind. Examples of opportunities include a new fire suppression system for the engine room to fight diesel and electrical fires, a ship detection system for fire, smoke, intrusion, power loss, engine room temperature high water, heating unit monitoring, and the installation of permanent deck fire capabilities. Telgian is spearheading these efforts and has donated the design of new piping for the Fire Fighter systems. Telgian Engineering & Consulting has already completed the scans and surveys of the previous water distribution system and are now providing the design and implementation required for this upgrade. This will enable Fire Fighter to continue performing her incredible water cannon displays.
“Fire Fighter is known as America’s Fireboat and for good reason,” says Telgian CEO and Fire Fighter Board Member James W. Tomes. “Fire Fighter protected the US during some of the most harrowing incidents in American history. And it is vital that this unique piece of American firefighting history and National Historic Landmark remain a fully operational vessel, memorial and teaching museum. Telgian is proud to support these important restoration efforts.”
For more than seven decades, this firefighting icon safeguarded the New York Harbor. During World War II, Fire Fighter stood ready as ammunition-laden boats left for Europe, providing courageous service on famous rescue missions such as the fire and capsizing of the SS Normandie and the fire aboard the massive munitions ship El Estero. Following the terrorist attack on 9/11, the fireboat was tasked with the greatest challenge of her career – pumping water from the New York Harbor after the Twin Towers collapsed and all water hydrants in the vicinity were crushed. Fire Fighter and other FDNY Marine Units were the sole source of water for firefighting efforts at Ground Zero. And in 2009, toward the end of her active career, she participated in the rescue of US Airways Flight 1549 passengers after its infamous emergency landing in the Hudson River.
In addition to donations, volunteers are also needed in the Quonset Point, RI area for organizing and cleaning, polishing and painting, electrical and mechanical tasks (that do not require specialized tools and skills). To learn more about volunteer opportunities aboard Fire Fighter, please contact Charlie Ritchie President and Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit Fire Fighter’s Facebook page for regular preservation updates and information. Fire Fighter is expected to be operational and available for your and event in Mystic, CT, Spring 2024.