Buls Eye

Bruce Buls photo Seattle Fire Department to sell the ancient Alki

February 12, 2013

Want a 123'x26' fireboat that can pump 16,000 gpm?

The Seattle Fire Department has one for sale, the Alki, and you can probably get a hell of a deal on it when it’s put up for auction sometime in the next month or two.

It’s a bit of a fixer-upper, however.

The Alki was built in 1927 and has a riveted steel hull. And if the topsides are any indication, the hull could be problematic.


The Alki was originally powered by gasoline engines, but the original engines were replaced with diesels in 1947, all 16 of which are still smoking away.

That’s right. The ancient Alki has 16 engines, which includes six pairs of 380-hp, GM 6-71s that power the six Byron Jackson centrifugal pumps, two supercharged, 8-cylinder, 500-hp GM mains, one 45-hp GM 3-71 driving a 30-kW generator and one 128-hp GM 6-71 turning a 60-kW generator.

Just think of all the fun your engineering staff can have with such a boatload of machinery.

At least the Alki has been in fresh water since 2002 when it was stationed at Fishermen’s Terminal following a series of disastrous marina fires in Lake Union and Lake Washington. She had been stationed on Elliott Bay, along with the 96’x23' Chief Seattle. But it takes at least an hour to get through the locks between Puget Sound and the Seattle Ship Canal, so the Seattle Fire Department finally put a boat inside the locks.


Now the Seattle Fire Department has the 108' Leschi, a major platform fireboat built in 2007, on the downtown waterfront and the newly rebuilt Chief Seattle will soon take the place of the Alki at Fishermen’s Terminal.

So the Alki is now up for grabs. But don’t grab too hard as you may find yourself holding a piece of the boat in your hand, as I did last week when I fingered a bolt on one of the boat’s eight monitors during a brief visit.

Bidadoo Auctions will soon be posting videos of the Alki streaming smoke and water in Lake Union and eBay bidders will have an opportunity to buy a working piece of Seattle’s history.

Good luck with that.

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