Newport Fire Department 'finally' obtains $1M fireboat

(WJAR)

The City by the Sea has never had a fireboat -- until now.

The Newport Fire Department finally has a fireboat in service to cover one of the busiest pleasure craft ports in Southern New England during the warm weather months.

The department has needed a fireboat in the past, so when emergencies happen on the water, seconds count.

"We have had boats out on the Harbor and on the Bay on fire and we didn't really have a way to get to them,” Capt. Donald Gunning of the Newport Fire Department told NBC 10 News Friday. “Many burned to the waterline and sunk. There are other fire boats in the Bay and the time that there's a fire, you need to go and address it as quickly as possible. And to wait an hour for one of those vessels to get here, if they're available, that just doesn't seem right.”

Three-quarters of the $1 million for the boat’s cost came from Federal Emergency Management through its Port Security Program. The rest was from private donations and the city.

The sleek, powerful craft protects the shoreline and doubles as a fireboat and ambulance. Besides the traditional navigation and radar, it also has sonar, night vision, and more.

“FLIR cameras -- forward looking infrared -- so that we can see heat signatures in the water,” according to firefighter Gregg Morash. “Very high-powered cameras, keeps us searching. To have that capability, to be able to have that extra chance to find someone, it's invaluable."

It also has two water cannons that can shoot a combined 3,000 gallons of water per minute.

"It pumps more water than any of our engines can,” Gunning said, adding that he’s pleased the city obtained the boat. “Oh, it's been a very long road, it's finally coming to fruition."

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