New Vessels Boost Ability To Fight Fires On The Bay

2 New Boats To Cut Response Times In Half, Double Water Pumping Capacity

The San Diego Harbor Police Department is using two new high-tech firefighting vessels to help cut response times in half and double the capacity of pumping water.

The equipment is good news for the more than 6,000 people who live on their boats in the harbor.

"If one boat goes, the chances it'll fire off to other boats is almost immediate," said Joe Moody, who lives in the Silvergate Yacht Club on Shelter Island.

Since last November, Harbor Police responded to 54 boat fires on the bay.

Harbor Police said the firefighting vessels will help cut response times in half and double the boats' water pumping capacity.

When compared to the boats in use for the past 35 years, the newer vessels can shoot water farther and out of three cannons instead of just one.

In previous boat fires, Harbor Police would pump water until the boats sank but that created environmental and salvage problems.

"Now with this capacity, our goal is to get that fire out as soon as we can and get that vessel out of the environment that it's in," said John Bolduc, San Diego Harbor Police Chief.

The boats could also assist if a land fire near the bay jeopardized the city's water supply because the new vessels would be able to pump water for firefighters on land.

Even the space on board the vessels to store firefighting and rescue equipment has vastly improved.

"It's like going from a hall closet to a walk in closet," said Officer Chris Scheil.

The new firefighting vessels, which cost $2 million, were paid by a state stimulus grant.

The boats will not only help fight fires. Both boats helped escort the damaged Carnival Splendor cruise ship safely into the harbor.

"We feel a lot better that they're there, that's for sure," said Moody.