Come aboard the biggest fire boat on the West Coast

Tuesday, October 1, 2019
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Long Beach Fire Department's fire boats can shoot water the length of two football fields, and higher than a 20-story building.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- The Long Beach Fire Department sure is proud of its two fire boats, Vigilance and Protector.

"This fire boat, and its sister ship, are the largest fire boats on the West Coast," said Fred Barkis, Fire Pilot at the Long Beach Fire Department.

Both Vigilance and Protector measure 108-feet-long and 38-feet-wide.

"The punch that these boats pack for fire suppression is unmatched on the West Coast," said Jim Underwood, Fire Boat Program Manager at LBFD.

The state-of-the-art fire boats provide 41,000 gallons per minute. The reach of the fire boats' water stream is 600-feet, the length of two football fields. The height of the stream is nearly 20 stories high.

The primary purpose of the ships is to protect the port, alongside the Port of LA's fire boat, in case of an emergency.

"The port has about $194 billion in revenue and there are almost half a million jobs tied to the Port of Long Beach and the Port of LA," said Underwood.

Barkis estimates the fire boats, owned by the Port of Long Beach, to be worth between $30 and $33 million.

"You would not be able to find a fire boat like this on the entire coast," Barkis said. The biggest fire boat in the country belongs to NYPD.

Vigilance, which was commissioned in 2017, will play a role in the Great Pacific Air Show.

"We provide a command and control platform for the show itself," said Underwood. "The aircrafts use it as a point of reference when they line up in front of the crowds."

The Long Beach Fire Department will kick off the Great Pacific Airshow with a water display.

"When you're on the beach looking out and you see this plume of water coming off of this boat off the Huntington beach Pier, it's an impressive sight," Barkis said.

The Great Pacific Airshow runs Friday, Oct. 4 through Sunday, Oct. 6.