Alexandria Fireboat Has Busy 9-11 Weekend

Page archived as of November 23, 2015

 September 12, 2011

 News Highlights

  •  Alexandria Fireboat responds to boat fire and assists on vehicle fire on WW Bridge
  • Alexandria’s fireboat is the primary water supply piece for the WW Bridge
  • Alexandria has been awarded a $1.23 million Port Security Grant to purchase a new fireboat with increased firefighting, rescue and CBRNE capabilities
  • Specially trained firefighters from Fire Station 201 in Old Town operate the Alexandria fireboat when a water emergency occurs.

More Information

On September 10 at 5:47pm, firefighters at fire station at Station 201 received a distress call on VHF radio channel 16.  A vessel was reporting a fire onboard in the area of Buoy #84 on the Potomac River.  The firefighters boarded their fire engine and responded to the City marina where they transferred over to the City’s fireboat, the Vigilant.  As they responded to the distress call, they contacted the U.S. Coast Guard and Prince George County Fire Department and requested their assistance.

The Vigilant arrived on the scene of the distressed vessel, a 45 foot cabin cruiser with eight persons on board.   A D.C. Harbor Patrol vessel had arrived on scene about two minutes ahead of the fireboat and removed seven adults and one infant from the vessel.

Upon verifying that all persons were safely off the vessel, the crew of the Vigilant pulled alongside the distress vessel.  They found the remains of a starboard engine turbo fire which burned the cabin floor and surrounding area.  The crew conducted salvage and overhaul operations onboard the vessel.  Once completed, the vessel was turned over to the U.S. Coast Guard.

On September 11 at 11:50am, the Vigilant was dispatched for a Recreational Vehicle (RV) fire with propane tank involved on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  While fire equipment responded on the bridge to extinguish the RV fire, the crew of the fireboat responded to supply the bridge’s fire protection system using water drafted from the Potomac River. 

The crew of the Vigilant coordinated with firefighters on the roadway who used the water supplied by the fireboat to extinguish the RV fire.  Fire Department units remained on the scene for approximately 2 hours.  The incident resulted in delays on Interstate 95.

In 1997, the City of Alexandria Fire Department initiated development of the Waterfront Operations Team to assist in the protection of citizens and mariners who use the various waterways in and adjacent to the City either for business or recreation. The Team was later renamed the Marine Operations Team to better reflect the multiple roles of the team, which include Open Water and Swift Water Rescue as well as Marine Firefighting (all members are trained to NFPA 1405 guidelines). Alexandria’s fireboat, the Vigilant, is operated by firefighters stationed at Fire Station 201 in Old Town, Alexandria.  These specially trained firefighters are assigned to an Engine Company and respond to fires, medical, and special hazards calls on their assigned fire engine.  When a call for the fireboat is dispatched, these firefighters respond to the fireboat, where they place the Engine Company out of service and the fireboat in service.  They then respond to the water emergency.

Alexandria’s fireboat, the Vigilant was purchased in December, 2003.  Vigilant is a Class 'C' fireboat equipped with a 1500 gallon per minute fire pump and a full complement of equipment as required by NFPA 1925. Powered by twin Cummings diesels and Hamilton hydro jets, Vigilant can run at greater than 40 knots. Paramedics can be deployed aboard Vigilant to give the vessel an Advanced Life Support capability.  The Vigilant is the designated firefighting water supply piece of equipment for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge as designated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

The Department has recently been awarded a $1.23 million dollar Port Security Grant to purchase a new 50 foot fireboat.  The new fireboat, which is expected to replace the Vigilant in the Fall of 2012, will be an all hazards vessel equipped with additional firefighting, rescue, and CBRNE mitigation capabilities.  The additional pump capacities of this new fireboat will improve the water supply efficiency for fire incidents on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

For more information, contact Robert B. Rodriguez, Chief Fire Marshal / Community Services Officer, Alexandria Fire Department, at 703-746-5217 or