Wielding a bottle of extra-dry champagne, Mayor Joe Riley on Friday christened Charleston’s first firefighting boat, a $1 million vessel that brings a new dimension of safety to the city.
“Our first responsibility is to make our community safe and, of course, this fireboat is a part of that,” Riley said.
The Charleston firefighting vessel joins the same sort of boat stationed in the city of North Charleston and another one based at the St. Johns Fire District. It is named in honor of the late Louis Behrens, the city’s longest-serving fire chief.
As a young man, Behrens battled blazes during the devastating Charleston earthquake of 1886. He was responsible for the city’s first building inspection program during his 26 years as chief, Riley said.
The 40-foot boat can pump 3,800 gallons of water per minute. A 980-horsepower diesel engine provides the power.
“It’s awesome. This is my hometown and I am excited to protect it,” said Capt. Rob Fulmer of Engine Company 2, who will pilot the boat.
The vessel will be located at the Charleston Harbor Pilots base.
Major funding for the fireboat came from an $825,000 federal grant. The city also contributed $33,000. In addition to firefighting, it will be used for EMS and dive rescue calls.