The Triton

Boat Show News

West Palm Beach Fire Rescue crew hot to keep show cool

With hundreds of boats on display at the Palm Beach International Boat Show this week, West Palm Beach Fire Rescue works hard to prepare and prevent fires. Battalion Chief Brent Bloomfield has full time crew on the docks.

But there are many components to facing a potential boat fire.

“We have to think of the ten to fifty thousand gallons of diesel on top of the boat construction,” Bloomfield said by phone during the show. “Boat foam and fiberglass burn very hot.” A fire’s heat can be measured in British thermal units (BTU). Wood burns at about 8,000, while a boat fire burns four times as hot, at 30,000 BTU.

“We have been doing walk-throughs since last weekend when the boats began arriving,” Bloomfield said. “We walk the docks, go on the bigger yachts and assess how we would get in the tight areas.”

Many of the parts of a boat burn as carcinogens, so crew wear breathing apparatus in case of fire fighting.

“Why, people ask, “You’re outside?,” he said. “Because, even when fighting a fire on the outside, with a couple of breaths of the smoke you can be in a lot of trouble.”

“We also have a regional HazMat team in this department. And we have worked with Rybovich,” Bloomfield said. “They have been very good about training, showing us how boats are built and giving us access.”

He said his crew has been onboard and walked around the yachts at the show. And during the show, the crew does walkthroughs while another group of firefighters watch from the water.

Driver/Engineer Kenny Repass worked with Lt. Alan Figueroa and Firefighter Josh Forbes on opening day from a RIB loaded with gear.

“We cruise around to check the access points and ensure the boat is running good,” Repass said.

The department also has a fire engine ready and a pickup truck with a foam trailer ready to disperse 500 gallons of foam. The foam is used for fire suppression in class B,C and D fires (flammable liquids, gas and metals).

“We use a top of the market foam which is about $20 grand to fill two totes,” Bloomfield said. “We can use it for fuel leaks for the gas and diesel, the foam suppresses those.”

Incident accident reports have been shared with other firefighting units in the area.

“They all have our plan which shows the information like the longest docks,” Bloomfield said. “We calculated all the dock lengths.”

Most of the department’s officers, about 60, have been through boat fire class, he said.

Aside from fires, the department crew are also paramedics. And boat shows present unique hazards.

“If there were a cardiac arrest or respiratory incident when a person is in the bottom of a boat, it can be hard to get them out,” Bloomfield said.

He said the officer carry backboards, but it can be difficult.

“We have ways, our motto is adapt and overcome,” Bloomfield said. “If it is tight or it is hard to do, we will figure it out and we will solve it the best way.”

Dorie Cox is associate editor of Triton Today. Comments on this story are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com.

Photos by Dorie Cox

Share This Post

One thought on “West Palm Beach Fire Rescue crew hot to keep show cool

  1. Alene

    It was great to see the teams walking the show yesterday (who doesn’t like to see a team of fire rescue guys and paramedics roaming around ). So pleased to see how the level of education, training and preparation has steadily improved in our industry!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please answer the question below to leave a comment. * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Editor’s Picks

Crew Unlimited and ICT in Ft. Lauderdale join with Bluewater in Europe

Crew Unlimited and ICT in Ft. Lauderdale join with Bluewater in Europe

Crew, employees, industry expect opportunities as European and U.S. companies partner to expand yacht crew training, …

Boats and brokers in the news

Boats and brokers in the news

Yachts sold M/Y Charisma, a 153-foot (47m) Feadship built in 1985, by Merle Wood & Associates. M/Y Scorpion 2, a 40m Sanlorenzo, sold …

MARPOL and its affect on yachts

MARPOL and its affect on yachts

With the recent implementation of yacht inspections by the U.S. Coast Guard, plus the continued efforts being seen by the Paris MOU in …

What’s missing at Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show?

What’s missing at Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show?

Yacht captains share their thoughts about what would make the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show better. Click to read The Triton …