By JUSTIN MORETTI The Warwick Fire Department aims to have its primary fire-rescue vessel, Marine 4, back on the water as soon as it is properly repaired. Speaking before the finance committee at the Feb. 24 Council meeting Assistant Chief Jason
The Warwick Fire Department aims to have its primary fire-rescue vessel, Marine 4, back on the water as soon as it is properly repaired.
Speaking before the finance committee at the Feb. 24 Council meeting Assistant Chief Jason Umbenhauer sought approval for an exception to go to bid so as to expedite repairs. The cost of repair parts is $8,540.66 according to an invoice and the repairs will not cost taxpayers anything.
“This is entirely funded through reimbursement through the 2019 Oil Spill Prevention Administration and Response grant,” Umbenhauer said. “The fire department is requesting a spending authority to purchase the part necessary to complete the repair, to be paid through account 38-814 which is the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) pass through grants. If granted the award will be for a one time purchase of the parts corresponding to the invoice.”
The damage was noticed when the vessel was removed for annual maintenance in late November from Fairwinds Marina in Warwick Cove, where it is stationed. Inside the reaction case, which is part of the water jet assembly, there are fins on the backside that line up in a circular fashion. Those fins are designed to take the turbulence out of the water and five to six of them were found to be snapped off.
“It’s not anything that was caused by any external damage. It was probably caused by something on the inside,” Lt. Justin Vail said. “Maybe a small rock or something of that nature got sucked through the grate, which hit one of them fins, broke one of them fins and then did that damage. It wasn’t anything related to anything our personnel did by striking anything. It’s just one of those types of things where there was a part failure.”
Marine 4 is a 36-foot, aluminum hull, jet propelled emergency response vessel. The last time major repairs were made on the boat was in 2018. Driveline and transmission repairs were made at that time.
The vessel is designed to put out marine fires, perform search and rescues and it also serves as the department’s dive platform. Marine 4 aids in extinguishing certain composites of boats and also aids in oil and fuel fires. The vessel also carries foam, which is designed to suppress vapors and take the oxygen away from the fire.
Not only does Marine 4 serve as the primary fire-rescue vessel for the Warwick Fire Department but also as an emergency response vessel part of a disaster strike team made up of five other sister boats that will respond and assist during emergencies throughout the Port of Providence. The sister boats are from the following cities and towns: Providence, Cranston, East Providence, and North Kingston.
Marine 4 was obtained by the fire department in 2009. Rhode Island received approximately $19.5 million in Homeland Security funding for Fiscal Year 2008, according to the media center on Congressman Jim Langevin’s website. The vessel was purchased through the $5.15 million designated in the funding under the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) program. This funding, according to Vail, was post-9/11 funding for terrorism protection and emergency response.
In 2019 Marine 4 made a total of 62 runs split between Warwick and other emergencies throughout Narragansett Bay. A majority of the runs did pertain to emergencies in Warwick and most of the emergency runs overall deal with missing people.
Vail, who is a 17-year veteran of the department, also spoke at Monday’s council meeting due to his extensive knowledge of marine crafts. Although he does not have an official title in the department’s marine division, he is very active within the division.
“I don’t have an official title when it comes to the marine division itself but I do a lot,” Vail said. “I have a big hand in a lot of the operations that go on with the marine division, the upkeep, scheduling of maintenance for the vessels, training things like that.”
Vail has also been the Harbormaster for Charlestown for the past ten years. He also has his Coast Guard captain's license for 100-ton vessels with a towing endorsement along with various first responder certifications. Vail is also certified to teach first responder classes that are locally and nationally recognized. His expertise on boats dates back to his childhood and the time he spent his grandfather’s boat during the summers.
Vail submitted a proposal packet with the information about the needed repairs and costs to the Chief of the Department back in December. The exception to bid was approved by the city finance committee and council. The parts are being provided by the manufacturer of the ultra jet propulsion system on the boat, Marine Jet Power out of Blacklick, Ohio.
According to Vail, the department hopes to have Marine 4 back in the water by mid-April. The longest part of the process was seeking the approval for the funding for the repairs. Now that it has been approved it will only take a few weeks for the parts to come in and only a handful of days for the repairs to be completed.
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