Shipyards take the fight to fire


Nothing grabs everyone’s attention – especially in the marine industry – faster than the word FIRE. Wherever the boats are, on board or ashore, you will find tools to fight fires. And when fighting a fire on or from the water, the most important of these tools is the fireboat. It is also the most expensive.

Captain Claude Klein was the senior fireboat captain for the Port of New Orleans from 1994 until his retirement in 2019. In an interview last year, he said the most important thing to remember when fighting a fire is to protect the fireboat.

“The boat comes first because without the boat the crew can lose their lives and you don’t have a boat to fight the fire,” he said. “If your position is too dangerous, withdraw and find another way in.”

These types of ships are valuable commodities for their owners. They protect property and sometimes save lives.


Last summer, the Jeanerette, Louisiana-based shipbuilder metal shark introduced the 38 Defiant NXT, a welded aluminum monocoque wheelhouse model based on the company’s 38 Defiant platform. The first new ship, the 43’x12″ fire boat 2was delivered to Orange Beach Fire Rescue in Orange Beach, Ala.

The new 38 Defiant NXT uses the same hull shape but with an all new topside layout designed by Metal Shark’s in-house engineering team.

A Wing a urethane-wrapped closed-cell foam collar provides impact resistance during parallel maneuvers, a sturdy knee for the bow thruster provides additional utility, and a large dive platform and dive tank holders in the aft cockpit were added for divers.

Orange Beach Fire Rescue’s new 38 Defiant NXT is powered by two 550hp engines Cummins QSB 6.7 inboard diesel engines mated to HamiltonJet HTX30 water jets through Dual disc MG-5065 SC transmissions. The configuration allows the fully equipped fireboat to cruise at 30 knots and reach top speeds in excess of 40 knots. The 38 Defiant NXT is available with a range of propulsion types and can reach top speeds of over 50 knots when powered by triple outboard motors.

For firefighting, the Orange Beach fireboat offers a flow rate of 3,000 gpm, with a twin 1,500 gpm Darley fire pumps driven via the PTO from the main engines. Each pump draws from its own dedicated sea chest in the hull, feeding a central manifold with crossover capability, which in turn feeds the entire system. From the fire control station at the port helm, flow is directed as desired via electronically controlled valves. The ship is equipped with a remote control Elkhart Scorpion EXM electric roof monitor, two rear manually operated Elkhart Copperhead monitors, two hand line sockets and one 5″ Storz link.

“Redesigning one of our best-selling models at the peak of its popularity was not a task we tackled lightly, but through our efforts we have made significant improvements to an already exceptional,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard as the boat was delivered. “Orange Beach Fire Rescue’s new 38 Defiant NXT fireboat and the many other fireboats currently in production are a direct result of our goal to consistently offer the most advanced designs in the industry through the evolution continues products.”

Metal Shark’s new 38 NXT has proven very popular. The 38 Defiant NXT fireboat for South King County, Wash. was recently delivered, while the yard is currently putting the finishing touches on the NXT fireboat for Chicago Fire. Two new NXTs are also being built for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, and one for the St. John’s (SC) Fire District and the Virginia Beach (Va.) Fire Department.

In addition to all 38, Metal Shark is building a 32 Defiant Fireboat for Stafford County (Virginia) Fire & Rescue, and a 25 Courageous for the East Dover Fire Department, Toms River, NJ

Last year, in addition to two 50 Defiant fireboats as well as a 36 Fearless center console delivered to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, and the 70 Defiant delivered to Canaveral Fire Rescue, Metal Shark also delivered a 32 Courageous at Boca Raton Fire Rescue and a 32 Defiant NXT fireboat at Horry County (SC) Fire Rescue.


North River Boats, Roseburg, Oregon, has been building fireboats and fire/rescue boats for decades. The company has branched out into building fireboats and fire/rescue boats to offer potential buyers a fresh approach to meeting the exact needs from department to department.

North River’s largest fireboats are based on the boatbuilder’s Sounder hull design with lengths up to 40′ and beam widths of 8.5′, 9.5′, 10.5′ and 11.5′. The hulls operate in offshore and inshore waters of the Pacific Northwest, from Alaska to California. But North River has also delivered fireboats to the East Coast and Gulf Coast of the United States.

“At North River, personalization is key,” said Russell Sparkman, North River’s chief marketing officer. “The Sounder hull is the proven hull form, and the upper deck and structures are highly suited to meet the needs or mission of the various fire and rescue services.

“With every boat we build, with every unique set of problems we solve for a customer, we create a new set of options and features to suggest, offer or recommend to future fire and rescue boat buyers. “

After listening to customer feedback and requests over the past few years at conferences, trade shows, office calls, etc., North River felt there was a need in the market for a larger boat. smaller and lighter than larger boats. based on the shell of the Sounder.

“Our goal in designing Freedom was to develop a platform that would fit the budget and needs of small fire departments, sheriff’s departments, which are often made up of only one part of law enforcement , part firefighters, port authorities and small municipalities,” Sparkman said. “That meant designing a rig that could be configured with outboard motors, an inboard jet for shallow water operation, or a sterndrive if desired.”

Standard features of the Freedom design include a center console with windshield, a drop-down front door and a fully self-draining deck. The boats are available in lengths of 21′ to 26′ with an 8’6″ beam, which are legally DOT towable in all 50 states and towable by a ½ ton or ¾ ton pickup truck.” We’ve even seen instances where the Freedom was towed by ambulances,” Sparkman said.

The Freedom has an option for a 500 gpm. Darley fire pump that has a through-hull intake. The pump can be easily removed via a quick coupler if additional deck space is required forward of the console.

“In recent years, we’ve delivered about 24 fire and rescue boats, between the Sounder-based and Freedom-based boats,” Sparkman said.


MetalCraft Marine recently delivered two high profile fire rescue boats to the east and west coasts of Florida, weeks apart. The exclusive communities of Ocean Reef in Largo Key and Boca Grande on Boca Grande Island have both chosen MetalCraft fire interceptors to ensure the protection and safety of their citizens.

The Fire Interceptor is a fire-rescue version of the shipyard Interceptor that is used by several friendly foreign militaries around the world as well as fleets operating in the USCG and United States Navy programs and many selected police forces.

“The selection made a lot of sense to the decision makers because both communities have a very sheltered side of the island and a very exposed side to the open ocean and their men cannot choose when someone is in distress and needs their help,” said MetalCraft contracts manager Bob Clark. “Let’s face it, fire crews don’t get as many calls on really nice days for a cruise.”

The boats are slightly different in length with Ocean Reef at 37’8″ LOA and Boca Grande at 35’1.5″ and come with MetalCraft’s standard 10 year hull warranty. Both are equipped with anti-corrosion meters required by ABYC with data logging, so if the boat has been in an area with strong stray current, it is logged for better observation. Ocean Reef has a Phaser generator for air-conditioned cabin space.

The Boca boat has twins Mercury 350 Verados and will do 60 mph. Ocean Reef went with Merc 300-hp Sea Pro engines and the boat hits a respectable 46 mph. Mercury offers a three-year non-declining warranty for its engines covering engines for government and commercial use, including military. Clark pointed out that Mercury engines are made in Wisconsin, “not in China.”

As high-performance military vessel designs, the boats have a very low beam-to-length ratio (BLR), which can significantly reduce pitching and vertical slam impact (vertical acceleration). The low BLR also means that in channels and ports they produce a very low wake signature.

The Interceptor’s hull is designed so that her main hull chines sit at or slightly above the waterline displacing less water as she moves, meaning less takes of power to push her at or slightly above hull speed about 30% more than hull speed.

Another important feature of military action is power reduction at cruising speed, Clark said. “The optimum planing speed for the lowest fuel consumption for most boats is between 22 and 28 knots. The military generally looks for a range of 200 nautical miles or more on a ship. And they want to get there as soon as possible,” he said. “It takes a lot of fuel and it adds weight, a lot of weight. At some point it can become self-destructive. The fire interceptor with all the extra weight of the fire engine, piping and lots of equipment associates, crew and fuel, requires as little hull strength as a designer can provide.

Clark said the Fire Interceptor’s low-strength hull surprises everyone when it can sail for hours at optimum fuel consumption of 28 knots, meaning it can beat a slower boat by up to six. nautical miles per hour and burn the same amount of fuel.

“There are theoretical calculations for this, and then there are hard test data numbers,” Clark said. “In a recent test boat that had a specific range requirement, we were able to reduce the tank size by 9%. Now this needs to be tested again as you now have the reduced weight of the tank itself. Can we save 10%?


About Author

Comments are closed.