Contrasting Fireboats: Long Beach and San Francisco Use Different Designs to Fight Fire


The San Francisco fireboat was designed specifically to suit the city's unique need to combine a modern firefighting vessel with a floating pumping station in the event of another earthquake. Photo courtesy of Vigor.

Big fireboats are easily divided into two types: lightweight, planing craft for fast response, and full displacement hulls with maximum pumping power. The two craft launched in Seattle this summer for Long Beach and San Francisco fit into the second category, but demonstrate that there are also many variations among the heavyweights. Because of their high cost – a minimum of $10 million for a 90 footer – the latest generation of "super pumpers" are usually designed specifically to suit the conditions of their home ports.

Canadian naval architects Robert Allan, Ltd. began preliminary studies for the Long Beach design in 2011, Foss Shipyard, Seattle was chosen as the builder in 2013, and the result is one of the most powerful fireboats in the world, the RAnger V-3300-class, able to apply its 41,000 GPM pumping capacity to reach fires on the largest container ships or several hundred feet onshore. The boat can also supply water to fire trucks and handle all manner of emergencies.

Philips Publishing Group

"Fireboats are very specific to each port," explained Robert Allan, who has designed large fireboats for harbors all over the world. "All of our designs are driven by a port's needs assessment. We look at the hazards, the risks, the response times, and the pumping capacity needed for each location, using the NFPA's latest standards."

Jensen Maritime of Seattle, a Crowley company, began design work on the San Francisco boat in 2012, with the prime requirement being to create a hybrid propulsion/pumping system that could supply water to the city's hydrants after an earthquake had cut off the water supply. The demand to maximize pumping capacity requires complex engineering and systems and typically requires 1-2 extra engines dedicated solely to pumping, in addition to twin propulsion engines with PTO's or clutches to allow them to pump and hold position simultaneously.

Port of Long Beach Protector

The Port of Long Beach's existing fireboats Challenger and Liberty began service in the late 1980s when the biggest ships in the Harbor carried 4,500 twenty-foot containers. In 2011 the Port was preparing for the new generation of ships with a capacity of 18,000 TEU, and began planning to build two new fireboats capable of fighting fires on these very large vessels and on shore. Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver, BC was selected to provide the design and to support the Port during the bid phase.

In late 2012, the Port selected Foss Maritime to build the vessels at the Foss Seattle yard. "These new fireboats are specifically designed for the Big Ship Era," said Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup. "They're amazing, state-of-the art machines built to protect the ships of today and tomorrow."

Functional requirements identified for the design include:

• Firefighting of ships, boats and near shore structures

• On-shore support, including shore-side supply of water

• Water rescue including vessel de-watering, towing and dive support

• Medivac services and EMS / paramedic support

Harbor security patrol, including detection of

hazardous agents

• Disaster response, including a Command Information Center

• Operation in contaminated (CBRN) areas

• On-site endurance of five days

Extensive CFD studies were conducted on the first RAnger V-3300 fireboat to verify the performance parameters including a maximum speed of 12 knots, a low wash (less than 12 inches) speed of eight knots. To ensure exceptional low speed maneuverability and station keeping when traveling both ahead and astern, Voith Schneider cycloidal drives were specified. (VS drives are often fitted on big escort tugs, but proved their value on the Port of Los Angeles fireboat designed by RAL and delivered by Nichols Brothers of Freeland, Washington a decade ago.) These are the only dedicated fireboats in the western world using the German-made drives.

Power for propulsion is provided by a pair of Caterpillar (CAT) 3512C main engines developing 2,012 bhp at 1,600 rpm. The engine room holds two more identical Caterpillars, and one Cat C12 engine to power the array of seven firefighting pumps, along with the mains. The pumps range in size from 2,000 GPM to 8,000 GPM with a total aggregate capacity of 41,000 GPM. Supplying ten monitors in total, the largest capable of delivering 12,000 GPM at a 600' range. This monitor alone exceeds the requirements of a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Type II fireboat.

In addition there are nine other monitors ranging from 1,500 to 6,000 GPM. Two of these monitors can deliver 6,000 GPM of firefighting foam at a range of 500 feet. The single largest monitor is capable of delivering 12,000 gpm a distance of almost 600 feet and a height of up to 236 feet. There are also four hydrants on deck with a capacity of 500 GPM in conjunction with the shoreside supply of up to 22,000 GPM to support land-based firefighting operations. Two of the four fire pumps are driven by diesel engines that also supply propulsion power. When fighting a fire, the VSP propulsion power is limited to about 25 percent; the remaining 75 percent is available to the fire pumps.

The vessel will have a normal crew of 4, with the ability to carry up to 12 supplementary firefighters with gear, or various support personnel such as SAR techs, EMS responders and dive teams.

The new, multi-mission fireboats can also respond to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. It is equipped with a citadel enclosure, specialized HVAC filters, a decontamination shower, and chemical detectors, medical center, a command information center, and an onboard crane and oil boom to contain spills. "We have to be prepared for any potential hazard," said Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán. "Protector is a major improvement in our emergency response capabilities, helping us to safeguard both the Port and our community."

The construction cost is $51.6 million for the two boats, including $18.5 million in grant funding from Homeland Security's Port Security Grant Program. Protector went into service in June of 2016 with the second vessel Vigilance expected in mid-2017

San Francisco's 88-foot St. Francis

The San Francisco Fire Department

has welcomed a new fireboat for the first time in more than 60 years; the city on the bay greeted its new $11.5-million vessel St. Francis on Oct. 17 – the 27th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who helped get $8 million in federal grants, broke a bottle of champagne over the bow. (A jury picked the name from 300 entries submitted by local school children.) An additional $3.3 million came from the city of San Francisco.

The 88-foot by 25-foot St. Francis was designed by Jensen Maritime of Seattle and built at the Vigor Seattle Shipyard specifically to suit the city's unique need to combine a modern firefighting vessel with a floating pumping station in the event of another earthquake. It has a capacity of 18,000 gallons per minute and the deck will accommodate up to 60 evacuees. The St. Francis is based at Fire Station 35 on the Embarcadero with the city's other two fireboats – the Guardian, built in 1951 and purchased from Vancouver, BC in 1990, and the Phoenix launched 1955.

The Loma Prieta quake of 1989 set off huge fires that burned out of control in San Francisco's Marina district. The water mains all failed, but the city fireboat Phoenix arrived on scene and over some 17 hours, pumped more than a million gallons of water into the Marina through portable hydrants. Therefore, the ability to supply water to the shore in huge quantities was the top feature required on the St. Francis.

Propulsion and pumping is accomplished with three Cummins QSK19-M, Tier 3 diesel engines, producing 750 HP at 1,800 rpm each. All three mains power three Counterfire ESF 300-550 pumps on the rear of the engines via Logan air clutches. The pumps have a capacity of 6,000 gpm each at 150 psi (all three pumps in parallel) or 6,000 gpm at 300 psi (two pumps in series) that is ejected through six Stang monitors. More than 1,000 gallons of foam concentrate is carried.

Power to turn the pair of four-bladed propellers is taken off the front of the two outboard Cummins via Centa CX-56 torsional couplings and 4.92:1 reduction gears with a maximum output of 590 HP at 1,800 rpm for a running speed of 11.5 knots. The center of the three Cummins is dedicated entirely to pumping. Special attention was paid in noise and vibration reduction by the architects and all three engines are mounted on Christie & Grey TSC T-10 vibration isolators.

A Northern Lights M99C13 65-99 kW genset provides ship's electrical power, engine control system is an Aventics Marex OSIII, steering is by a Jastram S-17-2-45. For added maneuverability, the new fireboat has a Wesmar V2-2ONS bow thruster. The electronics suite includes a variety of Furuno equipment, Nobeltec navigation software, Simrad autopilot and FLIR thermal cameras that provide visibility in all light conditions. The boat is built to ABS rules, but not classed.

"This boat is absolutely custom built. There is no other fireboat around like this one because of San Francisco's unique needs," said Keith Whittemore, Vigor's VP of business development." It was a really challenging boat to build, but the fire department, Jensen and all those involved were great to work with," said Whittemore. "


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2020

Rendered 10/25/2020 15:02