POULSBO — The Poulsbo Fire Department (Fire District 18) is getting a new fireboat this fall — and that is good news for Poulsbo’s waterfront business and homeowners and the Port of Poulsbo, as well as boaters, Port Commissioner Stephen Swann said.
The new fireboat is named “Viking Shield” as a tribute to Jim Shields and the Shields family for “all of their dedication and what they’ve done for our community and the fire department itself,” Fire Commissioner David Ellingson said.
Shields is a retired chief of the Poulsbo Fire Department. His grandfather and father operated Pacific Coast Codfish Co. in Poulsbo during the first half of the 20th century. Their flagship codfish schooner, the C.A. Thayer, is restored and moored in San Francisco as part of the San Francisco Maritime Heritage National Historical Park.
The 28-foot aluminum boat is a “Sounder” model built by North River and is powered by twin Yamaha F250 engines. The fire department and the Poulsbo Police Department acquired the money for the boat through a Homeland Defense port security grant. While both departments’ names are on the grant, the boat will only be operated by authorized and qualified members of the fire department.
Faster water rescue
“Viking Shield” will be equipped for towing and diving operations for water rescue as well as water and/or foam fire suppression systems, according to plans provided by the builder.
The fire department’s current fire boat is smaller and on a trailer, so it takes time to get it in the water when there is a water rescue. Having the “Viking Shield” permanently moored at the Port will save time — and lives, Ellingson said.
“Minutes and seconds count when it comes to water rescues,” he said. “We need direct access to the water. All too often now [with the boat on a trailer] water rescues can turn in water recoveries.”
The port and the fire department are currently negotiating moorage costs, Swann said. The fire department would like to see free or discounted moorage, he said.
Having the boat moored at the port is going to benefit more than just boaters, Swann said. The “Viking Shield” fire pumps are bigger and stronger — powerful enough that the vessel can be used to help fight fires along the shoreline. Besides homes and businesses, this includes fighting fires along undeveloped areas on the bay where fire engines can’t go, Ellingson said.
Mooring “Viking Shield” at the port could also mean that the fire boat’s presence would qualify as a fire suppression system for the port, Port Commissioner Jim Rutledge said. “The [port’s] current dockside fire suppression system is old and needs work.”
With the arrival of “Viking Shield” comes the question of what to do with the current Poulbo Police boat and Poulsbo Fire Deartment boat. One possibility is that one of the boats might become the Police Department boat and the other would be surplused.
“There’s no decision yet [on that],” said Ellingson.