Secaucus officials and volunteer firefighters were out on the Hackensack River earlier this month to meet the new fire boat the municipality acquired from the North Hudson Firefighter Region Fire and Rescue.
The 32-foot fire boat will provide increased capability for the fire department to respond to brush, bridge, or boat fires and to conduct rescues on the river.
On the trip to meet the boat the afternoon of Aug. 7 were Fire Department Chief George Schoenrock, Battalion Chief Bryan Schoch, volunteer firefighter Kevin Calderone, and local officials including Mayor Michael Gonnelli, Coast Guard Auxiliary members Claude Macchieraldo and Rich Elphic, and Councilman William McKeever, who was piloting his boat.
Emergency response on the river
The Hackensack River flows along the west and south border of Secaucus and extends into creeks and marshes in the surrounding wetlands. At present the Fire Department has a 17-foot fire boat that has to be hauled on a trailer and launched on to the river.
“It only pumps 300 gallons a minute which isn’t very much,” said Schoenrock.
With the existence of condos along the riverfront, a number of bridges, and the increase in recreational activity on the river, the municipality saw a need to invest in a new fire boat that can pump more water and hold more firefighters. The new boat also has a cabin that fits up to eight firefighters.
“This is another great addition to what helps the town of Secaucus.” – James Clancy
He noted that with a fireboat, “You can assist a land-based unit,” and “We have a continuous supply of water because of the feed from the river.”
The new fireboat can direct a flow of water as far as 100 feet. It comes equipped with sonar, radio, radar, and infrared cameras. It is made of aluminum and weighs 16,000 pounds. It has two engines, one of which needs repair. The town received the 32-foot boat from North Hudson as part of an inter-local agreement and it will cost a total of $10,000 to make repairs, paint it, and get it up to speed.
Canoes, kayaks, jet skis, and boats
“There is no fire boat on this end of the river,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli. “It will be accessible seven days a week.” The boat is docked at no charge from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 10-02 site on the Hackensack River.
“This is another great addition to what helps the town of Secaucus,” said Councilman James Clancy. Clancy serves as the liaison to the Fire Department. “There is a lot of activity on the Hackensack River.”
“There has been an increase of recreational boaters,” said Bryan Schoch, battalion chief.
Earlier this summer the volunteers had to rescue a jet skier that was stuck in the mud.
In cooperation with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, firefighters undergo a series of training sessions to perform rescues on the river. Schoch said that a number of firefighters have been trained in coast guard motor safety, marina fires, and small boat fires. He said future training will include swift boat rescues.
The boat has a dive platform in case the municipality decides to assemble a dive team in the future.
Fire Company Number Two, Rescue One typically deploys the existing fire boat. However, a captain has not been chosen for the new fire boat according to the Fire Chief.
The municipality expects to host an official “breaking” in of the boat in late September, early October after repairs are made.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.