America’s Fireboat Fire Fighter commences vital preservation work

December 18, 2023

The Fireboat Fire Fighter Museum has initiated essential preservation efforts for the historic fireboat, Fire Fighter, as it enters its 85th year.

The iconic vessel is currently undergoing major renovations aimed at restoring it to its original condition.

Essential journey and support

Recently, the Fire Fighter was escorted by the United States Coast Guard and local fire departments to the Goodison Shipyard in Quonset Point, RI, from its previous location at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, CT.

This movement was conducted by a four-person crew.

Charlie Ritchie, President of the Fireboat Fire Fighter Museum, emphasized the importance of this undertaking.

“Thousands of visitors tour Fire Fighter annually.

These much-needed renovations will enable Fire Fighter to continue operating as an important resource in educating future generations about this iconic ship’s modern fireboat design, and in general, the story of American firefighting,” said Ritchie.

Funding and improvements

The renovation project has been made possible through intensive fundraising efforts by the Fireboat Fire Fighter Museum.

Key financial support includes a substantial grant from the RL Gardner Foundation of Riverhead, New York, and a Save America’s Treasures grant from the federal government.

Despite these contributions, additional funds are still required to complete the capital improvements and cover ongoing operational costs.

Innovative upgrades and industry support

The fire protection industry is being approached for donations and gifts in kind to assist with remaining expenses.

Noteworthy contributions include a new fire suppression system for the engine room, a ship detection system for various emergencies, and the installation of permanent deck fire capabilities.

Telgian Engineering & Consulting, a leader in the industry, has generously donated the design of new piping for Fire Fighter’s systems.

James Tomes, CEO of Telgian and a board member of Fire Fighter, highlighted the significance of the fireboat.

“Fire Fighter is known as ‘America’s Fireboat’ and for good reason,” Tomes said.

“It is essential that this unique piece of American firefighting history and National Historic Landmark remain a fully operational vessel, memorial and teaching museum.

Telgian is proud to support these restoration efforts.”

America’s Fireboat: Historical significance and continued needs

For over seventy years, Fire Fighter protected the New York Harbor, including service during World War II and in the aftermath of 9/11.

The fireboat played a crucial role in numerous historic events, such as the SS Normandie fire and the rescue of US Airways Flight 1549 passengers.

The museum continues to seek volunteers for various tasks at the Quonset Point site.

FSJA Comment

The preservation of the Fire Fighter is more than just a restoration project; it represents a tangible connection to pivotal moments in American history.

The vessel’s service during events such as World War II, the 9/11 attacks, and the rescue of Flight 1549 passengers stands as a testament to the bravery and resilience of those in the firefighting community.

The ongoing efforts to restore and maintain the Fire Fighter underscore the importance of preserving our national heritage and honoring the legacy of those who have served.

The involvement of organizations like Telgian and the support from the fire protection industry reflect a commitment to heritage and a recognition of the educational value that the Fire Fighter offers.

As a living museum and operational vessel, Fire Fighter continues to inspire and educate, bridging generations through its storied past.

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