Recent Waterfront Fires Reveals Need for New Fireboat: Oakland Fire Department | NBC Bay Area
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Recent Waterfront Fires Reveals Need for New Fireboat: Oakland Fire Department

Fire officials said a fireboat the department has been requesting for years could have made a difference in a pair of waterfront fires that erupted over a three-day span.

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    Oakland firefighters are sounding the alarm over a lack of proper equipment. Terry McSweeney reports. (Published Monday, May 2, 2016)

    Oakland firefighters are sounding the alarm over a lack of proper equipment.

    Fire officials said a fireboat the department has been requesting for years could have made a difference in a pair of waterfront fires that erupted over a three-day span.

    "It would have given us more flexibility and more capability," Oakland Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Mark Hoffmann said.

    On Monday, a fire burned multiple boats at a dock in the Oakland Estuary. Fire crews were able to get the blaze under control at about 12:40 p.m.

    Firefighters currently use waterboats, but warn a fire in the shallow Estuary or a full-blown ferry disaster may be pose a problem for the boats.

    "The old boat is a full-displacement hull, so you can't get near mud flats without running around," Hoffmann said.

    The city of Oakland does not have money to purchase a modern fireboat for the department. Repeated attempts to get a federal port security grant to pay for the new $1 million fireboat have failed.

    Hoffmann said a 40-feet catamaran-style fireboat, lower to the water and much faster, would be ideal in quickly responding to oil spills. A modern fireboat would also be better for responding to a major ferry boat emergency or a commercial aircraft down in the water.

    Hoffmann said his department can always request mutual aid, but added Oakland should have its own top-notch equipment.

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