Fire Boat: An Interesting Type of Boat

A boat that is specifically equipped to take care of any fire emergencies arising on ships and on ports is known as a fireboat. The function of these vessels however is not just restricted to extinguishing and solving potential fire problems, but includes a number of other roles and responsibilities as well.

The concept of fireboats is not an emerging one. It is an old one which has undergone and is constantly undergoing changes to suit the needs and requirements of the ever-growing shipping industry and port needs. According to documented evidences, the first known fire boat was designed and built in the 18th century by the Sun Fire Insurance Company based in London. At that time, however the vessel used for such a purpose was not classified as a fireboat. The classification aspect came much later, in the 19th century.

Fire Boat

In the mid 19th century when the idea and the concept gained far more popularity than ever before, tugboats fitted with fire-fighting equipments used to perform the role of the fire boat. In contemporary times, however, even though tugboats are still refurbished to be used as fireboats, the capability of such boats to perform their duty been transformed to being quite withstanding and immense.


  • Operated by diesel engines, contemporary fireboats on an average have the ability to let-off 12,000 gallons of water per minute. In terms of litres, this translated to 45,000 litres per minute
  • A typical fire boat measures averagely around 125 feet in length with a beam of 25 feet and a draft of seven feet, travelling at a speed of 14 knots

Fire Boat


  • Fireboats are generally operated with the help of pumps and hoses. Since the quantity of water available for potential rescue operations is large, the fireboat does not face any immediate threat of shortage of water


  • This lack of shortage of water also helps the fire department in case there is any fire emergency on the shore-side or inside the vicinity of the city
  • In addition to extinguishing fires, fireboats are also used to thaw and cut into ice during winter months
  • A fire boat carries doctors and paramedics along with fire-fighters during any emergency scenario
  • The maintenance of the fireboats and the staff fall under the purview and management of the fire department
  • Cities which have major water bodies and have bigger ports have the facility of fireboats. On the other hand, those cities which do not have such a major water body or port services use boats loaned from the Coast Guard or the navy to carry out fire-fighting operations in case the need arises
  • There are processions carried out in order to demonstrate how the concept of a fireboat works especially to civilians who might be majorly unaware of the system of its working
  • Fireboats also act as escort vehicles to visiting ships belonging to dignitaries

Fireboats are still an important part of many contemporary societies. In their absence many lives could be lost waiting for the fire department to reach the accident site and then begin the rescue operations. Evolution is a must when the society develops and the evolution of the fireboats is a perfect example to quote.

You may also like to read-What is Fire Safety System (FSS) Code on Ships?


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