Jeanerette, La.-based Metal Shark has delivered two of three new welded-aluminum “50 Defiant” monohull pilothouse fireboats to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR).
Designed by Metal Shark’s in-house engineering team and built to Lloyds Registry standard, the welded-aluminum monohull pilothouse fireboats FB-21 and FB-73 were acquired to boost MDFR’s maritime firefighting capability and will replace existing vessels in its fleet.
Compared to MDFR’s outgoing vessels, the new 55'x7'6" Metal Shark fireboats offer faster speeds enabling shorter response times, greater pumping volume increasing firefighting effectiveness, and a next-generation design improving efficiency while affording greater safety to the firefighters that staff the vessels 24/7.
“These new vessels were selected by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue following a lengthy procurement process and countless hours of research and development to provide our crews with the safest, most modern and efficient maritime firefighting platform available in the market,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Marine Services chief Andy Alvarez said in a statement announcing the delivery. “We worked closely with Metal Shark to develop a custom-tailored solution to equip our crews with the most sophisticated firefighting vessel possible, and we are thrilled to put these state-of-the-art, high performance fireboats to work for the over 2.7 million residents of Miami-Dade County.”
The new vessels feature a pilothouse designed to deliver best-in-class visibility. The use of Metal Shark’s signature “pillarless glass” with reverse-raked windshield reduces blind spots compared to conventional pilothouse fireboats with smaller, framed windows. An innovative two-tiered side window arrangement, with a second row of windows below the beltline, provides downward-angle visibility from the helm, crucial during man-overboard retrieval or while maneuvering alongside smaller vessels. A panoramic skylight array provides an unobstructed upward view when operating alongside ships or elevated structures, or during helicopter hoisting operations. The result is mission-enhancing visibility throughout the complete range of firefighting and rescue scenarios.
Designed for maneuverability and fast response, the new MDFR fireboats are powered by twin V8, 16-liter, 1,200-hp MAN D2862 LE456 inboard diesel engines coupled to Marine Jet Power (MJP) 350X waterjets via ZF500 transmissions and reach a top speed in excess of 44 knots.
The vessels may be operated from three different stations, each equipped with MJP’s Combinator digital controls and joystick Vector Control System for pinpoint maneuvering in close quarters situations. A fully-automatic Zipwake dynamic trim and ride control system enhances vessel performance, economy, comfort, stability and safety.
The new fireboats deliver a flow rate in excess of 8,500 gpm, with twin Darley ZFE 3000 self-priming fire pumps driven via PTO from the main engines. Each pump draws from its own dedicated in-hull sea chest, feeding a central manifold with crossover capability, which in turn supplies the entire system.
From the fire control station at the port helm, flow is directed as desired via electronically-actuated 8" valves. The vessels are each equipped with a remote-operated Elkhart Spitfire electric rooftop monitor, two Elkhart Copperhead aft-mounted monitors, two aft dual handline outlets, forward and aft 5" Storz hydrant outlets, and a 3" outlet at the bow to accommodate an “Extenda Gun” from Task Force Tips. Dual 55-gal. reservoirs carry a total of 110 gals. of Aqueous Film-Forming Foam per vessel.
A Raymarine electronics suite includes multiple 12" and 16" AXIOM multifunction displays, with units installed at each of the three operators’ stations providing radar, GPS, engine and systems data, and displaying video feeds from onboard cameras. These units also display the feed from the gyro-stabilized Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIR) M400 XR multi-sensor thermal night vision camera with firefighting mode, which defines target temperatures and isotherms to aid firefighters in battling blazes by locating the seat of the fire from the exterior of the ship. A 12" Humminbird Helix displays depth, sonar and 3-D side scan imaging. The new vessels will aid the crews in detecting and identifying any Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) threat as the vessels are equipped with the latest in detection meters and equipment necessary to prevent such an event.
The climate-controlled pilothouses feature twin Dometic Emerald HVAC units, and SHOXS shock-mitigating seats for four crew members, with total seating for up to 16. Anti-fatigue, non-slip, vibration and sound-absorbing flooring is installed throughout. The vessels can carry three EMS patients on backboards. An enclosed head compartment provides a freshwater shower to decontaminate firefighters that have been exposed to harmful chemicals or elements of firefighting. A sink and marine toilet are also provided. Onboard electrical systems are powered by a Kohler 15EOZD diesel generator.
A dedicated officer communication station has been equipped with two Motorolla APX 8500 all-band mobile radios, Harris P-25 radio, Standard Horizon GX6000 VHF radio, and a dedicated monitor for viewing the onboard camera feeds. Two additional GX6000 VHF radios are installed aboard each vessel, with one located at each station.
“These next-generation fireboats are the result of our unwavering commitment to innovation,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “We continually challenge ourselves to embrace new ideas and push the design envelope to develop smarter, safer, better performing, crew-friendly designs. It is not only an honor to earn the trust of leading fire departments such as Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, but also a real validation of our efforts.”
“In the past three years we’ve completely reshaped an already successful fireboat product range,” said Dean Jones, Metal Shark’s vice president of sales for fire, law enforcement, and specialty markets. “We work closely with customers to implement their ideas, which drives change throughout our portfolio. It has been a pleasure to work with Chief Alvarez and this team of dedicated professionals to develop and deliver these next-generation firefighting machines to Miami Dade Fire Rescue.”
The new vessels will replace MDFR’s aging maritime response fleet, with FB-21 based out of Baker’s Haulover Inlet and FB-73 at Port Miami. Each fireboat will be staffed with a crew of four personnel specifically trained in Marine Firefighting, Dive Rescue, and Paramedics, and kept ready for immediate 24/7 response as needed throughout the entire South Florida Region.