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Donation of firefighting vessel floats selectmen's boat

Published 6:49 am, Thursday, January 30, 2014
  • Fire Lt. Roger Caisse discusses donation of a firefighting boat to Fairfield during Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting. Selectman Kevin Kelly is at right. Photo: Genevieve Reilly / Fairfield Citizen
    Fire Lt. Roger Caisse discusses donation of a firefighting boat to Fairfield during Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting. Selectman Kevin Kelly is at right. Photo: Genevieve Reilly

 

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When Superstorm Sandy walloped Fairfield's shoreline in October 2012, the west end of Fairfield Beach Road -- a peninsula between Long Island Sound and Pine Creek -- was left under water. Utilities were shut off, and the homes could not even be reached by firetrucks.

What happened at the Breezy Point neighborhood in Queens, N.Y., where homes cut off by flooding were destroyed when a blaze ripped through the neighborhood in Sandy's aftermath, could have happened in Fairfield, First Selectman Michael Tetreau believes.

"It was something we worried about" in the town's Emergency Operations Center, Tetreau told the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday, as it considered a request to accept a fire boat donated by the city of Bridgeport. The board ultimately voted unanimously to accept the 2008 Firebrand 28.

Fire officials explained that Bridgeport has obtained a newer boat, eliminating the need for this vessel. However, because it was purchased with grant money, it can't be sold.

"Our mission is to get out in the water quickly," fire Lt. Roger Caisse told the selectmen of the plans for the boat. "We currently don't have firefighting capacity in Long Island Sound."

The Fire Department now has two smaller boats -- one a 14-foot inflatable raft, the other a 17-foot rigid hull inflatable. Neither can be used to fight fires, and both are limited in capacity and by conditions on the Sound. The boat will allow firefighters to spray water directly from the vessel or from hoses run from the boat onto land.

It also has an enclosed cabin, with a treatment area for medical emergencies.

Asked if such a boat is necessary, considering the boats currently owned by the Police Department's marine unit, Caisse said, much like at the scene of an accident on land, police and firefighters have different duties and responsibilities. It also could supplement any firefighting efforts at the town's marina.

Training for four firefighters to staff the vessel will cost about $11,520, and will by done by the Norwalk Fire Department. It is estimated that operating costs, such as fuel and regular maintenance, over a five-year period is expected to be $47,750. There is existing grant money that could be used to pay for repairs or upgrades.

"This looks like a wonderful acquisition," Selectman Kevin Kiley said. "That's really a great asset to have."

greilly@ctpost.com; 203-556-2771; http://twitter.com/GreillyPost