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Alameda Firefighters Issue Statement About Mothbolled Fire Boats

For Immediate Release

7 FEB 2009

Domenick Weaver, President
Alameda Firefighters IAFF Local 689 AFL‐CIO

The Ambulance assigned to Bay Farm Island and the Fire Truck that serves the Gold Coast, West Alameda, and Alameda Point that are being closed as daily staffing levels fluctuate are NOT the only pieces of Emergency Equipment affeted by the City of Alameda’s financial decision making. Without any notification to the community, the Fire Department Rescue Boat and Fire Boat have been placed permanently out of service. Expensive and unfunded maintenance issues have placed the Fire Boat program, “on the rocks”.

Home to one of the largest marinas on the West Coast, Alameda as an Island completely surrounded by water has many opportunities for water activities and the risks associated with them. On one side, you have a vast expanse of tidal flats and dangerous mud, and on the other, an estuary with many obstructions, debris, cold water and swift moving currents. The Alameda Fire Boat and Rescue Boat were cross-staffed pieces of equipment that when needed, either an Engine or Truck Company with qualified operators and crew members would respond to the appropriate boat and respond to the water based emergency. These types of responses included boats taking on water, water rescues for people in the water, boat and marina fires, and fires on piers and docks.

The boats are still in the water, and City Staff has given direction to leave them there as to not create a public perception that the Fire Department is being “picked on”. Marina owners, boat owners, water enthusiasts and all citizens need to know that these resources are now un‐available to respond to water based emergencies. Not only has your safety been placed in jeopardy on land, but on the water as well.

These boats represent valuable resources that not only were there to protect you and your investments on the water day in and day out, but in the event of earthquake, supplied a means of obtaining a sea water pumping source for an emergency water supply. Being a neighbor to the Oakland International Airport, it is conceivable that water based rescue platforms could be necessary in the waters off Alameda, similar to the rescues affected on the Hudson River in NYC just last month.

The Alameda Fire Department will still respond on water rescues and to boat and marina fires, but all action will be limited to what can be accomplished from land. The United States Coast Guard will still respond for on the water distress and rescue calls, however the nearest Fire Boat located within the San Francisco Bay is operated by the San Francisco Fire Department, and may not be able to respond even if requested.

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