The San Francisco Fire Department got its first new fireboat in more than 60 years when Vigor Industrial, Seattle, recently delivered an 88’x25’x14’ NFPA Type II fireboat to the city.

Dubbed a “super pumper,” the fireboat is capable of pumping more than 16,000 gpm of water or firefighting foam, projected up to 300’. With six fire monitors and 26 manifold valves, the Jensen Maritime-designed vessel is a big step up in power from typical Type II fireboats, usually equipped with four fire monitors and eight manifold valves and a 10,000-gpm capacity.

The new boat has dual missions. Along with fighting waterfront fires, it is a critical backup in case an earthquake disrupts the city’s water mains. As a mobile pumping station, it can transfer millions of gallons of water directly from the bay into the city’s auxiliary water system for firefighting in the streets.

Fireboat 3, as it is currently designated, will be christened with a formal name Oct. 17 – also the anniversary of the destructive 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that broke city water mains.

The city’s older fireboats are over 50 years old, and despite meticulous maintenance their systems are aged, Raymond Guzman, deputy chief of administration for the SFFD, said during construction last year.

An array of Cummins engines provide pumping and propulsion power. Three Cummins QSK19-M EPA Tier 3 engines provide 750 hp at 1,800 rpm to Counterfire ESF 300-550 pumps with capacity of 6,000 gpm each – for a total 18,000 gpm of flow with all three engines in pumping mode.

Power is transmitted to the pumps via three Logan LC318 SAE #0 air actuated clutches and Elbe cardan shafts with a Centa Centaflex-R flywheel mounted torsional coupling.

In addition to pumping power, the two outboard engines also provide 591 hp at 1,800 rpm for propulsion off the front of the engines, transmitted through a Centa CX-56 torsional coupling and a Reintjes WAF 364 reduction gear supplied by Karl Senner LLC.

Designers gave special attention to noise and vibration reduction, mounting all three engines on Christie & Grey TSC T-10 vibration isolators.

“Construction of this fireboat is a source of pride for all concerned,” Keith Whittemore, Vigor’s executive vice president of business development, said in announcing the delivery. “It’s a complex vessel with multiple modes of operation and different systems that need to communicate with each other seamlessly to give the city’s firefighters the best possible tool for the future. Vigor, Jensen and many great suppliers did a great job pulling together as a team to make that intricate systems integration happen within the delivery schedule.”



Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.