2016: A State-of-the-Art Fireboat in California Officially Begins Operations

June 8, 2016

Fireboat 20, a ship equipped with state-of-the-art firefighting apparatus, was officially commissioned into service at Long Beach, California, as one of the vessels to be used by that city’s fire department. During the Wednesday afternoon commissioning ceremony at the Port of Long Beach Joint Command and Control Center, the vessel was renamed Protector.

Long Beach is home to one of the busiest seaports in the United States and, at the time that Protector was commissioned, the crucial role that she was expected to play in guaranteeing greater safety within the harbor — a priority made all the more urgent because of ever-larger container ships visiting there — was emphasized by Long Beach fire chief Mike DuRee. “The reality is because of the types of ships we see in port, we needed it to enhance our capabilities,” he said. “We have much greater issues to deal with in the port.”

Lori Ann Guzmán, president of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, likewise underscored the significance of Protector for that section of California’s coast. “We have to be prepared for any potential hazard,” she explained. “Protector is a major improvement in our emergency response capabilities, helping us to safeguard both the port and our community.”

The 108-foot (33-meter)-long Protector had been designed by the Canadian naval architectural firm Robert Allan Ltd. This vessel was built by Foss Maritime Company at its shipyard in Seattle.

Protector’s key features include a basket on the deck for lifting firefighters closer to a blaze; two pilot areas for facilitating maneuverability in tight areas; a medical station; and the latest in navigational technology. Protector is equipped as well with 10 water cannons that pump 41,000 gallons (155,202 liters) per minute — four times as much as previous fireboats at Long Beach — and propel water up to 236 feet (72 meters) in the air and as far away as 580 feet (180 meters).

In addition, Protector is powered by a pair of Voith-Schneider propellers. “It’s like an egg beater,” DuRee noted while describing this means of propulsion. “The whole system is unique . . . There are no other boats around like it.”

Even before she was formally entered into service with the Long Beach Fire Department, Protector was used to combat fires in the region. One of these fires was a conflagration at a one-time diner on a pier in the nearby coastal city of Seal Beach. The crew of Protector was able to extinguish that fire within three minutes by pelting it with environmentally friendly Novacool foam from the vessel’s water cannons.

During the fall of 2017, a fireboat named Vigilance was commissioned for service at Long Beach. Similar in size and capabilities to Protector, Vigilance was likewise designed by Robert Allan Ltd. and built by Foss Maritime Company. “These new fireboats are specifically designed for the Big Ship Era,” said Jon Slangerup, chief executive officer of the Port of Long Beach. “They’re amazing, state-of-the art machines built to protect the ships of today and tomorrow.”

Photo Credit: Ernie Tyler (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

For more information on the commissioning of the fireboat Protector, please check out https://www.longbeachlocalnews.com/2016/06/08/worlds-advanced-fireboat-dedicated-lbfd-port-long-beach/

Additional information on fireboats that have served the city of Long Beach in California is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireboats_of_Long_Beach,_California

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