Port of Long Beach Dedicates New Fireboat Stations

Long Beach port and city officials recently dedicated two new Port of Long Beach fireboat stations that they say enhance emergency response capabilities on water and land, to better safeguard visiting ships, cargo and waterfront workers.

The facilities—Fireboat Station 15 and Fireboat Station 20—are the products of a $109 million port program to preserve business continuity, security and economic interests.

“Shipboard firefighting is a challenge for any fire chief,” Long Beach Fire Department Chief Dennis Buchanan remarked during the dedication ceremony, which was held March 1 at Station 15. “These fire stations will allow us to host regional training that will prepare our crews for fighting fires and performing rescues at very complex and demanding environments.”

Also during the ceremony, POLB Chief Executive Officer Mario Cordero divulged how far the port’s fire protection efforts have come since he was a port commissioner from 2003-2011. Back then, he said, there was only one small, antiquated fireboat, and firefighters’ facilities were old and inadequate.

“Then I read an article in Pacific Maritime regarding the Port of Seattle’s state-of-the art fireboats (in 2005, 2006),” he recounted. “I said ‘wait a minute – Port of Seattle?’ We were (at that time) the No. 1 port of the West Coast. And I thought, ‘this cannot be’.”

So after many years of planning and expenditures by the Long Beach Harbor Commission, the port’s fire protection measures were beefed up, culminating with the two new fireboat stations, Cordero said.

“In years past, we said we were going to be ‘big ship ready,’ and that was our mantra,” he added. “Here we are now witnessing optimal waterside response by the harbor.”

The Port of Long Beach’s Fireboat Station 15. Photos: Mark Nero.

Both stations were approved for construction by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners in 2017 and funded by port revenues. They have an anticipated lifespan of 50 years.

“This investment is a clear sign to our customers and other industry partners that we mean what we say when we promise to develop a state-of-the-art infrastructure that enhances productivity, safety (and) efficiency in goods movement,” Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bobby Olvera Jr. said.

 “We believe that providing (firefighters) with the best equipment to get the job done is the right thing to do this time and every time the fire department comes calling,” he added.

Fireboat Station 15 is a single-level, 7,750-square-foot building in the port’s outer harbor with living quarters, a garage for two firefighting apparatus trucks and a full wharf with a 16,311-square-foot boat bay enclosure that houses the fireboat Vigilance.

Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson (right) and other city and port officials cut the cake during a dedication ceremony for Port of Long Beach Fireboat Stations 15 and 20.

Construction began in April 2019 and the project was completed in September 2021.

Fireboat Station 20, located in the port’s inner harbor, is a two-level, 9,783-square-foot structure equipped with living quarters, a garage for two firefighting apparatus trucks and a 16,280-square-foot boat bay enclosure that houses the fireboat Protector.

Construction started in March 2021 and the project was completed in December.

Protector entered service in 2016, followed by Vigilance a year later. The fireboats are each equipped with 10 water cannons capable of sending up to 41,000 gallons per minute to a distance of up to 600 feet, or the length of two football fields.