Welcoming Firefighter II to the city’s harbors


BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer

On the afternoon of November 13, strollers along the Battery Park City esplanade saw what looked like a fireboat convention on the Hudson River. If it wasn’t the Fire Department of New York’s entire Marine Division — current and retired — it was pretty close.

The boats were there to greet the newest addition to the fleet, Firefighter II, sister ship to Three Forty Three, which entered service in the spring of this year and is now moored at Pier 40. Firefighter II will replace Firefighter, stationed in Staten Island, but will first go through several months of shakedown and training.

Firefighter II is 140 feet long and capable of going 18 knots an hour and pumping up to 50,000 gallons of water per minute. Like Three Forty Three, the $27 million ship was built by the Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, Florida. The design includes apparatus capable of detecting and protecting firefighters from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents.

Both ships were deemed necessary by the Department of Homeland Security, which paid for most of the cost, because of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, when land-based water supplies were destroyed and for days after the attack the only water poured on the World Trade Center came from fireboats.

These included the doughty John J. Harvey, built in 1931 and retired in 1994. For 80 hours after the attack, day and night, the John J. Harvey pumped water on the burning ruins.

On Saturday, the fireboats celebrated the arrival of Firefighter II by propelling giant plumes of water into the air. After the others had departed, the John J. Harvey continued. She was last seen in Battery Park City heading up the river to her moorings at Pier 66 between 26th and 27th Streets, still sending streams of water into the air.