New Norwalk Fire Boat Increases Homeland Security

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At left, Norwalk Fire Department Lt. Steve Popadoulos models new headphones that came with the department's new rescue boat, shown at right.
At left, Norwalk Fire Department Lt. Steve Popadoulos models new headphones that came with the department's new rescue boat, shown at right. Photo Credit: Nancy Guenther Chapman

NORWALK, Conn. – A man hanging off the side of a capsized sailboat in Norwalk Harbor got some unusual help recently when a new $660,000 rescue boat arrived with the usual fire rescue boat.

Photo Album Norwalk's New Fire Rescue Boat, MU238

Aboard the new craft, paid for by taxpayers across America, were two men representing the manufacturer, on hand to teach Norwalk firefighters how to handle its twin jet motors.

The 42-foot-long, 12-foot-wide rescue boat was out in the harbor on a training mission when a report was called in about the capsized sailboat. The rescue boat arrived six minutes later, Deputy Police Chief Chris King said.

It was ordered in 2009 and fully paid for by a Port Security Grant through the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency, Norwalk Fire Department Lt. Steve Popadoulos said. It was shipped from Oregon and delivered to Cove Marina two weeks ago.

"What they're trying to do overall is take the responsibility off the Coast Guard," firefighter Phil D'Acunto, captain of the boat, said of the federal program. "Since 9/11 they're trying to get the Coast Guard back to guarding the coast."

Federal authorities have realized that municipalities have the manpower to deal with rescues and environmental spills but did not have the equipment, he said. That is changing with the awarding of grants "all up and down Long Island Sound."

Norwalk was one of the first communities to get a grant, because it already had a marine division, Popadoulos said. The federal government provides the money, but each boat is custom ordered by the department winning the grant.

Norwalk's boat features three nozzles for spraying water onto fires and storage space for 2,000 gallons of water. "We have a lot of marinas here, so the potential is higher for bigger incidents," D'Acunto said. "We want to move more water."

It features two 425-horsepower motors and a pressurized cabin. Firefighters can go into a hot zone, close the vents and turn on the filtration system, taking readings of the air outside via two intake valves.

Greenwich has ordered a combination police/fire/EMS boat with the same grant, D'Acunto said. It will have one nozzle for firefighting, and a gun locker in the space the Norwalk boat is using for a bathroom.

Norwalk firefighters say their new boat will allow them to fight fires on the Norwalk Islands and rescue anyone involved. There is space in the cabin for seven people to sit, in addition to the four-man crew. Or a patient can lie prone with an IV line hanging from a hook in the ceiling.

Norwalk had no firefighting capability on the water for two years when its police boat was sent to be refurbished. Before its refit it had one nozzle, D'Acunto said, and firefighters pile on with all their gear. He said, "This obviously makes things much better for us."

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Comments (4)

This is just what the taxpayers needed along with the bs from the fire dept.

Who is paying for the day to day operatopn and who now covers East Norwalks emergencies?

Just a few weeks ago there was a Maxican standoff with fire and police they met and what?

The last coupld of months the fire dept has rushed to te water to the old fire boat and left the dock before the faster two police boats were told of any possible water rescue.

The comments are right we have problems in the city many fire problems in respect to non working alarms in high profile areas of the city to lack of inspections.

Where 95 is a brain child of Bob Duff you can't get to East Norwalk in a hurry tye bridge this week was broken in the up position.With those facts Norwalk fire leaves East Norwalk without any fire protetction while they play on a boat costing the city thousands.

Can't or couldn't tale care of the city before the new fire boat how are they going to do it now?

This was a mistake Ramano knew this was going to cost the city money what now?

Most cities and towns who didn't have Greenwichs money said no to a boat from Homeland the boat is free the money to respond so far is Norwalks money thats Duff Ramano and those other two reps who are ghosts.

In the scheme of things its a great thing but for whom?Thr fire dept manpower is getting smaller the bill to pay for the fireman is rising soon we will have top wage earners on the fire like the police for less coverage.

Fire boat leaves the dock with four we need four more for East Norwalk then we need to consider overtime who pays overtime?

This was a trojan horse for the fire dept this was payback after election now who pays for the building and 24 7 care this fire boat needs?

There is nothing great about this to the taxpayer the boat years will dwindle by two more soon we have high rises and this boat down't come with a 100 ladder does it?

The taxpayers were fooled no the were lied to ,with a new facility coming to East Norwalk where a 100 elder residents and two staff members will be overnight the last thing we need in Norwalk is a slow or lax response from the fire dept when seconds count.

Rilling was a mistake McCarthy more so but why does Norwalk countiniue to p@ss money away and ignore what experts would tell you Norwalk needs not the fire boat with its obertime cost but someone sitting on the counsel to think about what they are doing ot what they are told to do.

We never talkled about what it costs to leave the dock for training fuel and up keep suppose there wil be good reasons and answers to combat the negative aspect of getting a 1/2 milion dollar boat never really needed the police dept up till now did an outstanding job and will continue to do so even if tye fire dept ats like 5 year olds and not tell the police about any water emergency until they are halfway there.

What did I accuse them of is documented by timelines the fire dpet has a certain amount of time from the call to get to your emergency stop watch them and hpld them accountable just like you expect from our police officers.

A fire ambulance would of been the best investment in the city but as long as we have Duff and the rest as our reps we will get things under the tree that won't fit or simply doesn't make sense to get in grants.

The fire dept did well not to report the facts maybe our Mayor could step up to the plate and tell us what the real deal was in the new fire boat and new fire truck that has cost the city severly.Like the Mayor the new truck looks great in parades but to gauge what it does for the city takes some work.

The coastal communities are woefully unprepared to deal with a major incident on the water. There is a lot of big boat traffic in the sound that could easily result in the need to rescue large numbers. The fishing party boats, for example, carry a lot of people and boat fires or sinkings are a real possibility. This new boat is a long overdue step in the right direction, but a major incident involving a big boat or even a passenger plane will require cooperation with a lot of towns and probably a lot of privately owned boats. The big boat in the background of the picture of the new fire boat is the Island Bell and it can carry up to 600, usually carries less, but still a lot more than all the city owned boats could handle.
There are other problems that need to be dealt with, but nothing is more important than saving lives.

Homeland security? What about Norwalk ghetto security? Last time I was on the Long Island sound there were no gangs. We have home invasions and people being shot every day so we go and buy a boat?

good point wcracka unfortunately we will not see any improvement in the gang issue until we see a new mayor and a new police department as the current ones are failures