Albero, as predictable as always, is once again blasting the Salisbury Fire Department Marine Division in their quest for a new Fireboat. He is in such haste to belittle the SFD he can’t even remember when he had his original post up. Today he claims it was “early last summer”, when in reality it was mid August. Great research Albero.
The idea of protecting riverfront property is not out of line. I invite anyone to take a morning boat ride down the Wicomico River and take a look at the private properties there. Than take an afternoon drive and check out these same properties from the land. You will begin to see just how un-accessible many of these houses are. Some are built basically on islands or small spits of land with very narrow driveways. Once on the property there is little room to maneuver equipment, or even room for multiple pieces of equipment. Since so many of these properties are well outside the hydrant area, any fir of magnitude would require a tanker operation requiring equipment to move in and out of the area to maintain water supply.
The commercial property along the waterfront is also a matter of great concern. The largest concern of course in the petroleum tank farms located there. If anyone has any doubt about the hazard posed by that, please remember February 1975. That explosion at the Exxon terminal rocked houses for miles and miles around. Before that incident was brought control resources from Wallops Island Virginia were being used and resources from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware were under consideration.
Salisbury is the second largest petroleum port in the State of Maryland. Scoff at that all you like but facts are facts. Millions of gallons of product flow through there every day on the land and on the water. Safety is paramount to the crews of the tugs and barges that navigate the local waters, but accidents do happen. Fairly recent to the waterfront is the Salisbury Marina. Shipboard firefighting is ball of wax all to itself. Often time the craft involved in accessible to land based apparatus and the need to approach and mitigate an incident such as this must be done from the water. It may even be necessary to remove the burning craft from its mooring to protect surrounding boats and structures. That’s a little hard to with out a boat capable of controlling the situation.
The Marine Divisions largest boat in a 25-foot pleasure craft. The pumping capacity is currently 250 gpm from a portable pump. In order to be sufficient a fireboat should have a pumping capacity at least equal to its land based counterparts. The pumpers in the Salisbury Fire Dept today are 1200, 1500, and 2000 gpm.
It is true the city fireboat is seldom used for firefighting. However in May of 1979 the fireboat was in service fighting fire at the Pocahontas offices on Mill Street. Once again in June of 1979 at the Benjamins fire on the downtown Plaza. Had a boat with a decent pump on board been available, it could well have been used when Mr. Bill Martins house burned in the not so distant past. Also again with the fire at Setter’s Run (?) sub division when a house was lost and water supply was a problem. It may, (I said may) have been possible for a boat to supply relaying tankers with water from the river without having a long run to the nearest hydrant. A 250-gpm pump is akin to putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. It’s a worthless act. So, the fireboat isn’t used that often for fighting fire therefore it isn’t needed. Using that rationale you should take the spare tire out of your trunk. After all you have 4 good ones on the road and you don’t need a spare that often.
Are special chemical needed to fight petroleum fires? You bet they are. Sometime these chemicals are used hundred or even thousands of gallon at a time.
Does Salisbury have these chemicals? You bet they do. The chemicals of which Albero’s commenter has spoken of is in concentrated form in 5 gal containers.
What bring these chemicals from concentrate to usable consistency for fighting fire?
WATER—that’s what. The chemicals are induced through the pumping systems and are apportioned to the proper mix and applied to the burning fuel. Sometimes this mix is applied from a distance. Sometimes it is induced directly into a tank. Sometimes hand lines at close range apply it. However it is applied, it can’t be done effectively with a 250 gpm portable pump and it must be done with a appropiate water/concetrate ratio.
Once again Albero questions why protection of this waterfront property doesn’t fall to the Coast Guard. Simply put—the Coast Guard isn’t here and as far as I know there is no plans to open a station here. Go ask the Coast Guard why. From Crisfield or Chincoteague, wherever the closest unit is stationed, it’s too far away to be of use to this area. Again---facts are facts.
Finally, the Times today clearly states that homeland security fund are prohibited from being used for a new fireboat. The $800,000 price tag is the upper limit to which a boat could cost. Albero want the insurance companies to pay for the boat. Does he think they will not pass on this expense to their customers? They will, and I assure you they will not pass it on to just those on the waterfront. Everyone will bear the expense.
I wonder----If Albero owned property on the waterfront would he scream if the city failed to have adequate protection for him?
Albero mentioned that river traffic does not warrant bridge tenders. It seems the Sate of Maryland recently made that decsion. For what it's worth I find that to be a horrible turn of events from the SFD standpoint. Although there are longer active tank forms up in that harbor, there are many hazards that may require an immediate access by water. In all fairness Albero simply mentioned this as fact--he did not blame anyone or pass opinion on the matter.