Metal Shark to build next Miami-Dade fireboats

The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department (MDFR) has awarded Metal Shark a contract to build the yard’s Defiant 50 X fireboat design to protect the southeast Florida metro region.

According to MDFR’s website, its fireboat program will soon be augmented by three strategically placed rapid rescue vessels (RRV) along the coastline of Miami-Dade County and three airboats, for improved response capabilities in the Florida Everglades. MDFR currently has two fireboats — 50′ and 36′ waterjet-powered boats built by MetalCraft Marine.

The welded aluminum monohull design uses a proven hull form and a specialized arrangement optimized for firefighting. The 50’x15’ vessels are to be built at Metal Shark’s Jeanerette, La., production facility to replace the department’s older fireboats now in use.

Propulsion will be from twin inboard diesel engines powering waterjets, according to Metal Shark. Projected top speed will be in excess of 45 knots, for the fastest possible emergency-response time. At a more economical 30-knot cruise speed, the vessels are expected to deliver a nominal operating range of approximately 250 nautical miles.

The fireboats were designed by Metal Shark’s in-house engineering team and boast modern, crew-friendly features for improved safety and efficiency. Mission-enhancing features include Metal Shark’s signature ‘Pillarless Glass’ pilothouse arrangement, which offers dramatically improved view from the wheelhouse compared to the smaller, framed windows used on the older Miami fireboats.

A reverse-raked windshield arrangement with large overhead skylights that provide upward visibility while approaching and operating alongside moving ships or elevated structures, or while keeping overhead aircraft in view. A full complement of modern firefighting equipment will allow crews to safely and efficiently conduct the full spectrum of marine fire and rescue response missions.

“We were impressed at every turn with the diligence and the professionalism of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s leadership, and especially their unwavering commitment to the safety of their firefighters,” Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard said in announcing the contract. “The department conducted in-depth research followed by a lengthy procurement process to acquire the most modern, efficient, and proven fireboat on the market, and our 50 Defiant checked all the boxes.”

With the acquisition, MDFR, one of the largest fire departments in Florida, will join a growing list of Metal Shark fireboat operators.

“While Metal Shark builds over 200 boats per year and we are perhaps best known for the large fleets of military vessels we design and build, we continue to expand our presence in the fireboat market,” said Dean Jones, Metal Shark’s vice president of sales for fire, law enforcement, and specialty markets.

In the past 18 months, Metal Shark has added nearly 10 new fire rescue customers, the company said.

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