For a city that is nearly completely surrounded by water, the need for a fireboat is obvious. But if city officials needed any reminder, two incidents over the last year and a half made the point clearer: The fire department rescued a 92-year-old man from the waters of the Kill Van Kull near Brady’s Dock, and they also assisted in the rescue of a woman from a submerged SUV in Newark Bay near Veteran’s Stadium.
But according to Fire Chief Greg Rogers, the current fireboat, a 17-foot Boston Whaler, is 30 years old. So the department needs to modernize, upgrade, and sub-grant with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to get a modern vessel.
Known as The Peninsula City, Bayonne has water around 90 percent of its borders, according to Rogers. But when looking for a new fireboat, “It was also important to be conscious of the city’s economic situation, which means the need to find grant money to pay for it,” Rogers said.“We pursued grants and applied for a Ports Security Grant.”
“We’re currently looking for additional grants to cover the city’s portion.” – Fire Chief Greg Rogers
“We’re currently looking for additional grants to cover the city’s portion,” he said.
He said the new boat is a significant upgrade and is similar in some ways to the smaller patrol boats used by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The 25-foot Safeboat has two outboard 225-horse power engines, and fire suppression capabilities – a fire pump – the old boat did not have.
“This will be very helpful when it comes to dock fires and things like that,” he said.
The boat will also be outfitted with technology for detecting weapons of mass destruction, such as gases used in warfare as well as radio sensing equipment.
“We would like to get it as soon as possible,” Rogers said, although the purchase still has to go out to bid. He estimated it will take from six to 12 months for the department to get the best boat.
Other council news: Wanna buy a 1883 firehouse?
For the second time in two months, the city will soon attempt to auction off a no-longer used firehouse on 34th Street.
Last month, the city put up two pieces of property for sale – the firehouse and a 15-acre stretch of property along Kill Van Kull.
IMTT, the local chemical company, successfully bid for the Kill Van Kull property for $1.2 million. But there were no takers for the firehouse. So the City Council is expected to vote at its July 28 meeting to auction the building off again.
Bids for the firehouse at 25 W. 34th St. will start at $200,000, and the city will provide a 10 percent discount if the buyer agrees to preserve the façade of the firehouse, which was built in 1883.
Animal shelter site considered
In the same area of the IMTT property purchase, the city said it has finally concluded a property boundary study, which will free up a portion of property along East Fifth Street to be the site of an animal shelter.
“We’ll be able to turn over the property to the Hudson County Animal League shortly,” said Steve Gallo, executive director of the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, which owns a significant portion of the land in that area.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.