Port of Houston’s New State-of-The-Art Fireboat Fleet Nearly Complete

The first of the new Firestorm 70 model Emergency Response Vessel's for the Port of Houston was delivered in September 2013. Photo courtesy Port of Houston
The first of the new Firestorm 70 model Emergency Response Vessel’s for the Port of Houston was delivered in September 2013. Photo courtesy Port of Houston

Just two more weeks until the Port of Houston sees the arrival of the third of three new high-performance emergency response vessels, completing what some describe as the most sophisticated fireboat fleet in the world.

The new fireboats, all of the ‘FireStorm 70’ model, operate as a state-of-the-art command center and high-speed response vessel built by MetalCraft. Each fireboat comes equipped with powerful quad diesel inboard engines for a top speed of 45 knots. The current fleet clocks in at just 14 and 16 knots.

VIDEO: 500 Knots on the Houston Ship Channel

Part firehouse, part boat, the vessel enables the crew to stay on station for extended periods. The cabin includes a primary care berth with four secondary berths in the cuddy. Portable berths can be positioned in the aft equipment cabin to handle injuries during incident.

Four firefighting pumps can produce flow meter results of 13,600 gallons per minute (GPM) at 150 pounds per square inch (PSI) and 17,000 GPM at 130 PSI and stream up to 450 feet with a roof-mounted Stang monitor. This is three times the discharge rate of any of the current Port Authority fireboats. As a shore hydrant, the FireStorm 70 can pump an impressive 7,000 GPM at 70 PSI through 1,000 feet of hose from a 5″ Storz outlet before staging pumps are required.

Each fireboat is 70’10” long with a breadth of 22’10” and a draft of 34 inches.

The Port of Houston Fire Department operates three fire stations stationed along the 52-mile-long Houston Ship Channel. The new boats replace three retiring fireboats commissioned in 1973 and 1983.

A four-member crew, which includes two from the Port of Houston Authority’s Fire Department, is escorting the vessel to Houston on a two week voyage through the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The vessel will be piloted by Captain Ron Peddle, an owner of MetalCraft Marine with 33 years of experience piloting ships and 35 years of building boats.

“The Port of Houston is one of the nation’s busiest ports, and protecting this national asset is essential to the economic well-being of Houston, Texas and the nation,” said Port Authority Executive Director Roger Guenther. “This vessel completes our new fleet, providing our firefighters with the advanced equipment needed to help save lives and property along the Houston Ship Channel.”

The emergency response vessel journey is scheduled to take the following course from Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to Detroit, Mich. (May 16) and then across Lake Huron and Lake Michigan to Chicago, Il. (May 18). From Chicago, the journey continues on the Cumberland River to Peoria, Il. (May 19). Then following the Illinois River, the fireboat sails on to St. Louis, Mo. (May 20), where it will enter the Mississippi River and continue with stops in Memphis, Tenn. (May 22), Vicksburg, Tenn. (May 23) and from New Orleans (May 23). A final stop will be made at Galveston, Texas (May 24) before arriving at the Port of Houston on about May 28.

“The entire MetalCraft team is honored to have been given this contract by the Port of Houston Authority,” said Michael Allen, General Manager of MetalCraft Marine. “Under the guidance of Project Manager Jay Milner and Design Manager Ryan Hunter, our team of craftsmen put in over 20,000 hours to build this industry-leading fast response FireStorm 70.

“During the build process, we worked closely with many people from the Port of Houston Authority and got to know them well. It is obvious that they take great pride in their very important roles, and we are proud to be building our most well- equipped FireStorm for them. Our goal is to provide the perfect boat for each of our customers, and we hope the Port of Houston Authority feels we have succeeded.”