Vancouver Fire and Rescue christens new boat

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With a flag raising, the national anthem and a non-alcoholic toast, the first of two new Vancouver Fire and Rescue boats was christened in the Granville Island docks Wednesday, marking a new chapter in the ongoing fleet upgrade efforts.

Fire Boat 1 is part of the pair that will replace two older boats that will have spent 25 years patrolling Vancouver waters before their retirement next year. Its sister boat is scheduled to hit the waters next year.

The new boats will be responsible for five municipalities, following the disbanding of the multi-municipality marine fire response service consortium.

“With our extended service area, now that the consortium is no more and we’re operating with two fire boats, it certainly makes a difference that we’ll be able to get to areas in need more quickly, with more maneuverability and provide additional firefighting capability,” Captain Jonathan Gormick says.

Each 40-foot boat can pump 7,500 gallons per minute at 150 psi, twice the power of their predecessors, and travel up to 39 knots, up from the top speed of 35 in the older boats. Worth $1.5 million each, they were custom built in Kingston, Ont., by MetalCraft Marine.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue's New Boat

Gormick says the better pumping power may have helped them as they battled last year’s Port Metro Vancouver shipping container fire, but every situation is unique.

What he knows for certain is the new pressurized cabins will help firefighters inside avoid breathing in smoke or having to wear oxygen masks.

“That really became a concern when we responded to Squamish for the pier fire, because the smoke was blowing down onto the water and the operators of these old boats had to wear breathing apparatus while they operated the boat, which was cumbersome and difficult and potentially even dangerous,” Gormick says.

The long list of technological upgrades includes night vision cameras with gyroscopic image stabilizers, medical equipment to treat patients onboard, remote control water pumps to control the direction of streams, video streaming, twice as many life rafts, and better fuel efficiency.


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