Marine 1 was the first Marine Company formed in the City of New York. We have moved several times over the years (find out more on our history page). We are on call and respond to 560 miles of waterfront surrounding the City of New York. These waterways are among the busiest in the world, used for both shipping and enjoyment. Along with the other two fireboats and a total of four small rapid response boats, we protect the people of New York as well as those visitors who are just passing through.
Marine 1 is manned by a crew of seven; an officer, a pilot, two engineers, and two firefighters.
The Officer on the fire boat has the same responsibilities as a firehouse officer on land has and more. He is the sole person responsible for the safe return of not only his crew but the vessel as well. They are trained in special operations. They are Haz-Mat trained, and they also have received training in the difficult aspects of marine shipboard firefighting as well as training in cold water survival. Many times the officer on the boat finds himself advising a chief on land, on the best way to handle incidents on the water based on the information he extrapolates from his very knowledgeable crew.
Pilots are US Coast Guard licensed "First Class Harbor Pilots". They are responsible for safe navigation, operation and docking of the fireboat. Upon receiving a call, whether it be a report of a fire, boat in distress, or person in the water, the pilot makes sure the fireboat and its crew gets to and operates at the scene safely. They must be able to perform their duties under all conditions; dense fog, heavy rain, thick smoke, darkness, strong currents, etc. To accomplish the mission, the John D. McKean has been amply equipped. In addition to the Hydra-Pilot steering gear, engine controls and gauges, search light and fog horn controls, there are two VHF marine radios, a radar unit, a G.P.S. receiver to plot position and speed, a sounder to determine the depth of the water, a satellite compass for direction, a lap top computer which displays local navigation charts, a fire department dispatch computer terminal and a fire department communication radio. In the case of an electronic or electrical failure the McKean can still navigate with the magnetic compass, paper charts and pilotage.
The Marine Engineer is licensed by the US Coast Guard. The engineer is responsible for the operation and maintenance of all of the machinery on the boat. They are skilled and knowledgeable in diesel engines, electrical systems, high-pressure steam boilers, hydraulic systems, ship's construction, and interpretation of schematics and blueprints. The Marine Engineer as well as the Pilot and Wiper, are uniformed promotions from firefighter. They maintain firefighter skills and specialty training. They are specialty firefighters that help other firefighters solve the unusual situations on the water or ships.
Wipers are apprentices to Marine Engineer. You must be a Wiper to be eligible to take the Coast Guard test for Engineer, the same as lieutenant to captain. The Wiper in the fire department only works on boats that are over 105 feet. Typical tasks of the Wiper are, lubricate and clean engines, boilers, auxiliary systems and other equipment aboard the fireboat. Fires oil burners, maintains proper temperature, pressure and atomization. Operates the bilge, ballast, fire, and fresh water, sanitary and lubricating systems. Cleans and paints machinery, equipment, engine spaces, galley and sanitary areas. Assists Marine Engineer in the repair and overhaul of machinery and equipment.
The Firefighters not only do the normal duties of fighting fires as a firefighter from an engine or truck would, but they also have many responsibilities on the deck of the fireboat. They are look outs for the Pilot. (a second set of eyes, whether it be watching the radar or watching for navigation hazards) They operate the Monitors or Water canons and Manifolds for fighting fires, operate a small boat for fighting fires under docks or for rescuing people in the water. They are trained as special operations firefighters are. They are Haz-Mat trained. They also throw heavy 2" lines and are responsible for securing and tying up the boat at a fire, emergency, or dock.
History of Engineer John D. McKean
John D. McKean served as a Marine Engineer in the New York City Fire Department and was assigned to the Fireboat George B. McClellan. He was burned by a live steam explosion aboard the McClellan on September 17, 1953. Although fatally injured, McKean heroically remained at his post, vainly trying to keep the vessel under control. As a result of the broken steam line, the McClellan was disabled. Distress signals were sounded on its whistle, while a radio call for an ambulance was sent. The tug Julia Moran, nearby in the Upper Bay, took the McClellan in tow and towed it to its base at Pier 6, Staten Island. An ambulance then took McKean to U.S. Public Health Service Hospital. John D. McKean died there five days later, September 22, 1953. A new fireboat had already been ordered. When it was ready, a year after John had died, John D. McKean's name was on the top of the list would grace this new fireboat. Fire Commissioner Edward Cavanaugh invited the McKean family to attend the christening. The christening took place on March 19th 1954, at the Mathis ship yard in Camden, New Jersey. The wife of Mayor Robert Wager had the honor of swinging the champagne bottle. Commissioner Cavanaugh and the McKean family again would gather to watch the new Fireboat, John D. McKean sail into New York harbor on September 9th, 1954, over 50 years ago. John D. McKean was 45 years old. He was survived by his wife Catherine and two children, John D. Jr, 14, and Marilyn, 11, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. David McKean, and his sister and brother. McKean lived most of his life in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. He was a member of the Fire Department for 15 years. He was appointed on January 1, 1938 and assigned to Ladder 148. John D. McKean's son and grandson followed there fathers footsteps and joined the New York City Fire Department. His great grandson is a member today.