One of the most famous fire boats in American, MV John J. Harvey in New York, measures 130 feet long and weighs 268 net tons. It has five 600 horsepower diesel engines and the capacity to pump 18,000 gallons of water a minute.
By contrast, the largest fire boat made by Harbor Guard Boats of Costa Mesa, CA, is only 32-feet long and weighs 7,100 pounds. The Firehawk uses a 1,200 GPM fire pump with bow mounted monitor for fire suppression.
To paraphrase a famous ad slogan, this is not your grandfather's fire boat. Harbor Guard designs boats in keeping with the modern demands placed on them, said Tim Spooner, regional sales manager for the company.
"Instead of having a giant, multi-million dollar fire boat that takes many crew members just to get under way, typically what fire departments and port authorities are looking for instead is buying small units with a high pumping capacity that they can place around the port," Spooner said.
Harbor Guard offers a variety of fire boat sizes ranging from 17 feet long and capable of pumping 800 gpm; a 24 foot boat that pumps 1,200 gpm and a 32 foot boat that pumps 2,000 gpm. The chief advantage of these smaller boats is that one person can climb aboard and pilot it to the emergency scene to begin fire suppression while larger boats are still en route. When the larger fire boat arrives, it can take over primary operations while the smaller boat acts as a support system. In most cases, one or several small fireboats pumping more than 1,000 gpm presents a quicker, more cost effective solution for fire departments and port authorities.
Fully loaded, the Firehawk 32 can carry 18 people. Two-thirds of the hull is foam filled making the boat unsinkable. The below deck fire pump is directly plumbed through the keel. That pump is always primed and can supply water with the turn of the fire pump engine key.
Harbor Guards' parent company, Modena Sports Design, has been building boats since 1986, Spooner said.
"The company began as a design house where we would engineer, design, mold and tool products for other boat manufacturers to use," Spooner said. "We introduced Harbor Guard two years ago. We came up with a new design and decided to market our own line."
All Harbor Guard boats incorporate patented port and starboard collapsible eight-foot side doors for diving purposes which fold down to the water line to give divers and rescue personnel easier access. These doors are controlled from the driver's helm. When the doors are collapsed it provides the driver with a clear view of people and obstacles in the water during a rescue situation. There is also a rear dive platform that allows people to board the boat faster. All of these platforms are useful for boarding other vessels as well.
"If there is an incident with a lot of people in the water the risk of hyperthermia or other exposure problem can be reduced by more rapid loading," Spooner said.
Beside people, the Firehawk comes complete with ample room for rescue and medical equipment. Using a hand line, a discharge on the front of the boat can be used to feed a pumper on dry land when other water supplies are exhausted.
"Our boats have foam tanks so they can spray foam on oil and boat fires without dumping a large volume of water into a craft that can do more damage than good," Spooner said.
For more information about Harbor Guard Boats, visit their web site at www.harborguardboats.com. o