Here's a story from the New Haven Register.
GUILFORD >> The Guilford Fire Department has come a long way since the 1976 Faulkner’s Island fire that destroyed the light keeper’s house and scorched the tower.
“By the time we got there the island was an inferno,” said one firefighter. “We didn’t stand a chance, but we did what we could,” according to faulknerslight.org.
Now, permanently docked at the Guilford Town Marina is a $457,000 aluminum fireboat ready and available for any emergency that occurs on Long Island Sound and beyond.
A federal grant covered 75 percent of the cost, while donations from the Harbor Management Commission, Marina Commission, Shellfish Commission and Sachem’s Head Yacht Club offset the 25 percent of the town’s burden of the cost.
“It’s an excellent piece of apparatus that now is a part of our fire fighting/life saving equipment in the Guilford Fire Department,” said First Selectman Joseph Mazza.
A committee worked closely with MetalCraft Marine in Kingston, Ontario to design the new boat. It replaces the previous fireboat, in service since 1988, which was basically designed for sport fishing.
Senior Marine Captain Peter Beauvais remembers using that boat during the 1998 hurricane to rescue a “sailboater who had lost his sail.”
“It was actually a four-agency response,” he said. “We had 12-foot waves and 70-mile-an-hour winds.
“It’s not exciting. It’s not as fun as everyone thinks it is.”
Whether it is a boater’s distress call, a swimmer in danger, or a fire at a dwelling close to the shore, the boat is equipped to answer the call.
“This is going to increase our capabilities as far as fire fighting at sea, also with rescue, any HazMat issues we’re going to have and we certainly have dive capabilities, which we didn’t have before,” said Beauvais.
Talking to Beauvais, along with Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Vetre and Firefighter/EMT Mike Perez aboard the fireboat, it is clear that whether there is another emergency three miles out on Faulkner’s Island or anywhere along the area coastline, the Guilford Fire Department is prepared to take on the task.
For firefighting from Long Island Sound, the boat is equipped with multiple water sources — the water cannon/water monitor in the front center of the boat, a pump on the side and the capability to attach hand lines/canvas hoses to the back of the boat to simulate a fire hydrant.
The vessel provides “another level of protection to the homes on the shoreline, so we can fight a fire not only from the land, but also from the water, itself.” Mazza said.
The boat is also equipped with a siren, PA system, generator, two chart-plotting systems, high definition radar, sonar, a dive platform and a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) system “to navigate in absolute darkness,” explained Beauvais.
In the first two weeks of operation the boat was dispatched four times, including aiding a sailboat that ran onto Goose Rocks, a small child on a sailboat that went into the rocks, a lost mast out by Kimberley Reef and a search for kayakers, out longer than expected.
Of the 36 career fire department employees, every single one of them will be certified crewmembers. In addition, some will receive their captain’s license, which requires additional training.
“They have to be aware of all the navigation rules and laws and be very intimate with the boat and all its systems so they can troubleshoot anything that might happen with our own boat to be able to respond to something,” explained Beauvais.
The 14,000-pound, 30-foot-long boat, with twin 300 hp outboard motors, will be in the water all year round, which was not possible with the former watercraft. Equipped with some ice breaking capabilities it will be ready and available for any emergencies that occur even in the dead of winter.
“All the commercial traffic that we have,” said Beauvais, “local fishermen and then we also have all the larger oil barges that go through, gas barges, tugs — they’re working year round.”
There are also the duck hunters out on the water until the end of January and the year round studies being done on Faulkner’s Island that could possibly necessitate assistance.
This newest addition to the fire department makes Guilford residents, in addition to all those up and down the Shoreline, much safer while on the water.
“Firefighters are safer, the people that we’re looking for are in a better way because we’re safer,” said Vetre.
“There’s more technology to be able to do our job and do it more efficiently.”
The firemen view their job on the water no differently than that on land.
“When you have a fire you expect the fire truck to show up,” said Vetre. “You don’t expect a van with some things in the back that they might be able to fight the fire with.
“This is like the fire truck out on the water. When you look up and you want to see the red truck in front of your house - when you see this boat, and you’re in distress, this is the boat that will give you more confidence that this boat can do the job.”