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Title: Fireboat  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of museum ships, Water salute, Charlotte Fire Department, Riverboat, New York City Fire Department
Collection: Boat Types, Fire Service Vehicles, Fireboats, Port Infrastructure, Ship Types
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


London Fire Brigade fireboat, River Thames, London
Toronto Fireboat WL Mackenzie
Toronto Fireboat WL Mackenzie demonstrating its capabilities
Italian fireboat CLASS M
A fireboat of the fire department of Frankfurt, Germany
HKFS fireboat Excellence
San Francisco fireboat Phoenix
Deluge, retired fire fighting tug
Tokyo Fire Department's Ariake fireboat

A fireboat is a specialized watercraft with pumps and nozzles designed for fighting shoreline and shipboard fires. The first fireboats, dating to the late 18th century, were tugboats, retrofitted with firefighting equipment.[1] Older designs derived from tugboats and modern fireboats more closely resembling seafaring ships can both be found in service today. Some departments would give their multi-purpose craft the title of "fireboat" also.

They are frequently used for fighting fires on docks and shore side warehouses as they can directly attack fires in the supporting underpinnings of these structures. They also have an effectively unlimited supply of water available, pumping directly from below the hull. Fireboats can be used to assist shore-based firefighters when other water is in low supply or is unavailable, for example, due to earthquake breakage of water mains, as happened in San Francisco due to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Some modern fireboats are capable of pumping tens of thousands of gallons of water per minute. An example is Fire Boat #2 of the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Warner Lawrence, with the capability to pump up to 38,000 US gallons per minute (2.4 m3/s; 32,000 imp gal/min) and up to 400 feet (122 m) in the air.

Fireboats are most usually seen by the public when welcoming a fleet or historical ships with a display of their water moving capabilities, throwing large arcs of water in every direction.

Occasionally fireboats are used to carry firefighters, Emergency Medical Technicians, and a physician with their equipment to islands and other boats. Some may be used as icebreakers, like the Chicago Fire Department's Victor L. Schlaeger which can break 8 to 12 inch ice.[2] They may also carry divers or surface water rescue workers. Passengers from ships in danger can be also transferred to various kind of rescue boats. Rescue boats may be used also for oil and chemical destruction on rivers, lakes and seas.For example, the Helsinki Rescue Department in Helsinki, Finland has various kinds of boats for various kind of firefighting, rescue, and oil destruction tasks.[3]

Also hydrocopters, rigid-hulled inflatable boats, fanboat and even hovercrafts and helicopters are used in fire, rescue and medical emergency situations.

Cities with fireboats are usually located on a large body of water with port facilities. Smaller fire departments lacking resources will use rigid-hulled inflatable boat or borrow boats from local rescue agencies (EMS, coast guard, military).


  • History 1
  • List of famous fireboats 2
  • Departments with fireboats 3
  • Government and military with fireboats 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The first recorded fire-float was built in 1765 for the Sun Fire Insurance Company in London. This was a [4] Prior to the "John Fuller", as early as the late 1700s, the FDNY used hand-pumpers mounted to barges and large rowboats. The first purpose built steam driven boats were introduced by Boston Fire Department (William F. Flanders) and FDNY (William F. Havenmeyer) in 1873 and 1875 respectively. The first European fireboat to appear in Bristol was the Fire Queen, built by Shand Mason & Co., London, in 1884 for service in the city docks. The 53 ft. (16.61 m.) long craft was equipped with a three-cylinder steam pump supplying two large hose reels; one of these was replaced with a monitor, or water cannon, in 1900. Fire Queen served until 1922.

List of famous fireboats

Departments with fireboats

Government and military with fireboats

Japan Coast Guard patrol boat with water cannons discharging

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ "The Schlaeger".  
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ "Boatyard Ruins - Photographs by Shaun O'Boyle". Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  6. ^ "San Francisco Fire Department Museum ~ Fireboats ~ Governor Irwin". Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  7. ^ "San Francisco Fire Department 1906 Earthquake and Fire Operations". Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ a b "Navy Firefighting Operations". 1906-04-30. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  10. ^ "USFS Chicago 1906 Fire Operations". Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  11. ^ "Massport Boston Boat". 2011-11-23. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  12. ^ CA. "Meteghan company building fireboat - Fisheries - The Vanguard". Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  13. ^ "5.3 Million Dollar Massport Airport Fireboat Ready to Launch - CNN iReport". 2011-09-06. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "A.F.Theriault". A.F.Theriault. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  16. ^ CA. "Shipyard builds fireboat for Portland - Manufacturing". Nova News Now. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  17. ^ "Firefighters to get uncapsizable boat" (in 한국어). 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  18. ^ Fire Boat

External links

  • "Smoke Eaters On Water", May 1931, Popular Science detailed article about New York city fireboats of that era
  • "Diesel Fire Boat Shoots Seventeen Streams" Popular Mechanics, August 1937—i.e. article on Chicago Fire Department fire boat Fred A. Busse (fireboat)
  • Painting of the fireboat “The New Yorker,” 1893, in the Staten Island Historical Society Online Collections Database
  • type=Manufacturer “New type of fireboats”
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