Philadelphia Fire Department removes boat from Engine 46

The removal of a longtime boat from Engine 46 has grabbed the attention of the neighborhood as concerns grow on if it will be replaced or not.

SOURCE: WIKIMEDIA

The removal of a longtime boat from Engine 46, Frankford and Linden avenues, has grabbed the attention of the neighborhood as concerns grow on if it will be replaced or not.

According to Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Gary Loesch, the boat recently removed a 1974 Boston Whaler that was originally designed to be used “in conjunction with a larger vessel” and was initially placed at Engine 46 for “storage purposes only.”

“State guidelines for fiberglass rescue boats indicate they are suitable for use in water where there is a limited chance of hull damage from rocks and other debris,” Loesch stated in an email. “The Delaware River does not meet this standard. The 44-year-old boat already has hull damage and is in generally poor condition. Rescue boats today are recommended to be aluminum or inflatable.”

The Engine 46 staple known as “Marine 46” was also not an official Philadelphia Fire Department designation, according to Loesch.

“The boat has no official PFD designation as a rescue apparatus, and the PFD never developed operational procedures for its use,” Loesch stated. “The members tasked with staffing it have not received comprehensive training to conduct safe operations under emergency conditions.

“For all of these reasons — and for the safety of our members and the public — the PFD removed the boat from Engine 46 last month. However, it’s worth noting that the PFD recently received federal grants to purchase two new fast boats; future grant opportunities might provide sufficient resources to safely restore/enhance our marine capability within our overall system constraints.”

City Councilman Bobby Henon expressed his concerns with the removal of this boat, in his district. Henon discussed the amount of activity that occurs on the Delaware River near that firehouse and stated he understood the concerns of members of the community and would like to see another boat placed at Engine 46.

“I’m committed to the health, safety and welfare of the people that elected me and the people I serve,” Henon said. “My job is to fight for the reassignment of the water rescue.”

The news of the boat removal also grabbed the attention of local civic associations. Bill Kennedy, East Torresdale Civic Association vice president and retired Philadelphia firefighter, was bothered by the news of the boat removal and believes that Engine 46 cannot operate in the same capacity without it.

“They have (basically) closed a firehouse by taking ‘Marine 46’ out of service,” Kennedy said. “There is no other equipment capable of getting to the Delaware River in the Northeast in that short amount of time.”

Kennedy stated he understood that the previous boat was in service for a long period of time, but believes a boat should still be located at that specific location.

“(Marine 46) should be replaced as soon as possible with a modern, well-equipped boat.” ••

John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com