Marco Chief takes fire-rescue boat out of service after vessel’s poor performance in powerboat explosion

Marco Island Fire Chief Mike Murphy told City Council Tuesday the department's fire-rescue boat was putting firefighters' lives at risk. He also told them the equipment was not adequate for future rescue and fire incidents and would be decommissioned. The 22-foot Pathfinder sports fisherman used by Marco Island's Fire Department answered a powerboat explosion call at 11 a.m., Feb. 17 (above), in Caxambas Pass. Nereida Resendiz / Special to the Eagle

Marco Island Fire Chief Mike Murphy told City Council Tuesday the department's fire-rescue boat was putting firefighters' lives at risk. He also told them the equipment was not adequate for future rescue and fire incidents and would be decommissioned. The 22-foot Pathfinder sports fisherman used by Marco Island's Fire Department answered a powerboat explosion call at 11 a.m., Feb. 17 (above), in Caxambas Pass. Nereida Resendiz / Special to the Eagle

Marco Island's Fire Chief Mike Murphy and City Manager Jim Riviere listen as city councilors discuss decommissioning the island's fire-rescue boat at Tuesday's city council meeting. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island's Fire Chief Mike Murphy and City Manager Jim Riviere listen as city councilors discuss decommissioning the island's fire-rescue boat at Tuesday's city council meeting. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

— Marco Island Fire Chief Mike Murphy told City Council Tuesday the department’s fire-rescue boat was putting firefighters’ lives at risk. He also told them the equipment was not adequate for future rescue and fire incidents and would be decommissioned.

The 22-foot Pathfinder sports fisherman used by Marco Island’s Fire Department answered a powerboat explosion call at 11 a.m., Feb. 17, in Caxambas Pass.

“Our personnel did an outstanding job,” said Murphy. “I was the first one on that scene. We had so many 9-1-1 calls on this incident, but the fireboat failed to perform. We had adequate personnel but could only pump 100 gallon per minute.”

In addition, firefighters had to get very close to fight back the flames.

“We endangered our own personnel with the boat we used for response,” Murphy said.

The fire occurred when a 27-foot Rinker was powered up after refueling. Two men on the exploding boat jumped to safety leaving the boat unmanned. The vessel came ashore on the breakwaters in front of Dela Park Place condominiums on South Collier Boulevard.

The two men were unharmed and swam to safety. Although Marco Island’s fireboat arrived first on the scene, it was ineffective in subduing the blaze, Murphy said. Firefighters had to wait approximately one hour for help from neighboring districts to arrive and extinguish the flames with foam.

During that time, an onshore breeze drove smoke into condominium units at Dela Park Place and onto the roof. Smoke and soot entered air conditioning ducts and seeped into lanais. Residents of the building were advised to shut off air conditioners and close lanai shutters. They also were advised not to stay in units until air conditioning ducts were cleaned. In all, 53 condo units were affected by the smoke.

“Plastic and byproducts of fire are a health hazard,” Murphy explained. Those contaminants were deposited in air conditioners and ducts requiring proper cleaning.

Murphy estimated the damage at more than half a million dollars to the building and individual units. The building’s condominium association said it will wash the building’s facade and clean each lanai.

Murphy said the fireboat also was inadequate for rescues because it did not have a platform for retrieving injured victims from the water. Rescue personnel have to lift victims over the side, a maneuver virtually impossible if the victim was on a backboard, he said.

Councilor Wayne Waldack asked for statistics on the island’s boating community. Murphy told council Collier County has more than 22,000 registered boats with approximately 6,000 boats on Marco Island. The island has 22 miles of shoreline with 180 miles of waterways.

“We put a little pump on a boat and then call it a fireboat,” Waldack said.

Council agreed to take up the matter at a future council meeting.

“I think before action is taken, it should be part of our overall budget,” Councilor Joe Batte added.

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Comments » 14

happy6 writes:

get ready for the chief to ask for a HUGE fire boat to fight the 1 boat fire in the history of marco island...if they would practice and use the boat it would help...he could have also had a fire truck in the parking lot and run a fire hose to the water from a fire hydrant...much easier...

GFonda writes:

I'm just wondering if the Sheriff Department has a fire boat that could be placed at the North end of the island at their fsacility. I have a problem believing that a fire boat can get quickly on the scene if the fire is some distance away from the location of the fire boat. Goodlands comes to mind or the Marco River.

blindguy2 writes:

Install a platform on the back of the boat and a larger pump. Problem fixed.

dc5799 writes:

How old is the fireboat that we have and how much did it cost?

ajm3s writes:

Not to be critical, but again somewhat concerned:

1. When was the last time the unit had a performance test. You know those pesky performance tests to determine pump capacity and if maintenance or corrections are required.

2. The deficiency of transporting personnel does not make sense if the fire boat was not outfitted originally. So now we make it an issue? The fire boat was perhaps only to serve as a cannon hose..kinda like having/buying a water truck and complaining that we could not transport victims.

I will say it again, council and city management needs to seriously review the safety management on this island.

Think about it, this fire was is in my book somewhat routine for a boat fire that is not equipped with foam. However, I would expected at least minimum of ~500 gpm from the pump.

Yet, from this article we have inadequate performance of equipment (why?) and fire fighters working to close (by admission of the chief).

And to respond to Mr. Waldack statement: “We put a little pump on a boat and then call it a fireboat,”. I would like to add, under the management and review by a city manager, fire chief and council to fund it! If he now insists on decommissioning, then perhaps management should NEVER had commissioned if it was operating to specification. UNLESS management accepted its designation as a water jet fire boat at 100 gpm.

And please, when I hear a chief lamenting about the difficulty of retrieving victims from the water, I ask have you ever take a water safety course, because most retrievals are by recreational and fishing boaters. And we do not complain as often as you do in front of council about lack of equipment given the finest personnel.

My concern is we never review adequacy of management. If this is about inadequacy, was it inadequate specification, inadequate maintenance/performance review, or inadequate management review expecting equipment to perform beyond specifications and then complain after the fact and to decommission.

It is about using resources efficiently and effectively with competence, not histrionics.

So before, we discuss funding, let us review the review process, especially the reviewer of safety equipment as specified in their job description.

Or, in defense of safety management, perhaps times have changed? Or are we witnessing behavior described as HPD minus emotionality?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histrion...

God help us all!

RayPray writes:

Furnish our porky cops with a couple of extra 6-packs and have them pee off the back of the boat....

Problem solved!

Sparky100 writes:

Oh, I smell a nice new shinny boat coming, and all the training and staff to service it, all for one call.
Sounds like, never let a good crises go to waste.

marcofriend writes:

This new boat was brought up to council around 1-1/2 years ago. If he goes for the same thing he was looking at then, we are all in for major sticker shock. But, it's only money and we have the well that never goes empty...............

Throat_Yogurt writes:

BC its a F****** Pathfinder!!!!! My small fishing boat of choice, love 'em but not suitable for emergency services

dc5799 writes:

Did Murphy know that he put his men in harm's way? How long have we had the unsafe boat in service?

JGAFF writes:

Murphy and his personal friend Waldack will bleed this boat fire of the century dry. $600,000 for a fire truck that has not seen flames in 2 years. Get rid of Murphy, he squanders Marco tax money on BS items. Besides this is also a police boat? I wonder if this was a set-up or arson. That boat was right next to shore, interesting??

woozygirl writes:

MO MONEY!!!!! SPEND MO MONEY!!!!

marconed writes:

Les buy a nice thirty foot Scarab with a big water tank on it that way they can go fast to a boat fire which happens every few YEARS. and build a covered shelter to keep it in along with a full time crew around the clock that should be housed in a nice million or so dollar facility. By the way whats the MPG of the the gass guzzlers MIPD just got, Is that enough vehicles for the thirty or so officers to cruise around in.

Pursuit writes:

That pathfinder fireboat was a joke to begin with Equipped to put out grass fire's Just something for the good old boy's to play with.
A properly equipped fireboat does not have to be huge but must be equipped with chemical fire suppression like the foam you see at aircraft fires Water alone will not extiguish A gasoline fire period!!! or put burning petroleum based fibreglass out quickly.
Whoever made the decision to call that pathfinder a FIRE-BOAT does not have a clue on Accellerant fueled fire control procedures A properly trained staff is needed as well as equipment. Sea Tow or Boat U.S. should get into the fireboat business not the politicians

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