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American Fireboats, The History of Waterborne Firefighting and Rescue in America



By John M. Malecky                                                                    May, 2024


American Fireboats

The History of Waterborne Firefighting and Rescue in America

By Wayne Mutza   


Available from:

FSP Books & Videos

433 Main Street Suite 2A

Hudson, MA 01749


E-mail: support@fire-police-ems.com



Price: $50.00


This book is hard cover, measuring 8 ½ inches by 11 inches, with 256 pages. It is another outstanding work by this author, who I once met and have reviewed other books by him in this column. Keeping to his form, he has provided a book full of intense research and detail. After a preface, acknowledgements and a lengthy introduction (with photos included), the first chapter (Guns and Hoses) tells the story about the early days of marine fire protection, which was provided by the military where it takes us through WW II and post WW II. The second chapter covers the Great Lakes with boats from Chicago, Milwaukee Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo, NY.  In this chapter you will read about Milwaukee’s most interesting LARC-V, an amphibious craft capable of fighting fires on water and land since it had road capability. You can see two more of them in Miami and Tampa chapters. The next chapter is New England featuring boats from Boston, Portland Maine and New Haven, Norwalk and Bridgeport and the Noroton FD in Darien Connecticut and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In this chapter is shown a Boston high pressure hose and booster wagon of Engine 26 (which worked in conjunction with the boats) that continued pumping even after it was nearly destroyed by a falling wall. The 1947 Mack was driven to the shops under its own power. The rest of the other chapters cover the Atlantic Coast, Gulf of Mexico, Inland Cities, California’s Pacific Coast, Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Space restraints for this column preclude details of these aforementioned areas except Hawaii. There is a special place in my heart for Hawaii because when in the Army, I spent 15 months training at Schofield Barracks on the Island of Oahu before being deployed to Viet Nam. While on the island, I befriended many Honolulu chiefs and firefighters and had a tour of the fireboat at the time, the Abner T. Longley. As was told to me, Mr. Longley was a resident who fought to have a fireboat, but passed away before it went into service. So it was named after him. The Moku Ahi, painted yellow, replaced the Longley years later, however was since sold, leaving Oahu without a full side fireboat. The Honolulu City and County Fire Department (one agency) covers the entire island with the exception of military bases, who have their own fire protection.

This book is a must for anyone interested in fire department histories and fire apparatus. It is loaded with photos and every chapter will hold your interest. 


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John MaleckySenior Columnist

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