Los Angeles Fireboat 2 is No. 1 in the world

The 105-foot fireboat cruises near its boathouse on the Los Angeles waterfront.

In 2003, the Los Angeles Fire Department acquired the 105-foot fireboat Warner L. Lawrence, commonly called Fireboat 2. She is said to be the most powerful fireboat in the world, and when all 10 of her monitors are streaming water, she definitely looks the part.

Designed by Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia, and built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Freeland, Wash., Fireboat 2 replaced Ralph J. Scott, which had simply worn out after 78 years of service in the Port of Los Angeles.

In the late 1960s, Capt. Warner Lawrence was the driving force behind giving the aging Scott a complete refit and a new battery of firefighting equipment, extending her service life into the present century. Fireboat 2 is named in his honor.

The boat’s large monitors can shoot water 600 feet at 14,500 gallons per minute.

The new fireboat is chockablock full of diving, rescue and firefighting gear. She has a fully equipped EMS room for paramedics to work on casualties, a retractable diving platform that can be deployed 10 feet below the waterline and a 50-foot telescoping aerial ladder with a basket that will hold 600 pounds. She also has underwater cameras.

It is not that the port has many major fires requiring such a sophisticated vessel. According to Capt. Gilbert Reyna, “We haven’t had more than a handful of fires since we got her in 2003. It’s mostly been rescues and boat sinkings.” It is that the port is rife with the potential for catastrophe from ship incidents, petrochemical mishaps, terrorist attacks, even earthquakes and a fire season that threatens the Los Angeles basin for much of the year.

Fireboat 2 is powered by two 1,800-hp MTU 12v4000 mains, shafted to a Voith Schneider cycloidal drive forward. She has a stern skeg for directional stability and will do up to 13 knots. Electricity is generated by two 150-kW Northern Lights units.

Engineer Ted Theule with the 1,800-hp MTU main engines.

Everywhere you turn there seem to be Skum fire monitors. They are driven by two 1,575-hp diesels at up to 38,000 gpm. The large monitors shoot water 600 feet at 14,500 gpm. Two under wharf nozzles in the stern discharge water at 2,000 gpm. There are also 6,000 gallons of foam concentrate available and multiple foam-capable monitors.

Fireboat 2 was influenced, right down to her red hull and white house, by Crowley Maritime’s Voith Schneider cycloidal-drive tug Leader, moored at Crowley’s dock, right next door to Firehouse 112. The fireboat has become a showpiece of marine firefighting technology, and prospective agencies from all over the world, scouting out designs for fireboats, send their representatives to Firehouse 112 for a tour of Warner L. Lawrence.

The wheelhouse.
Capt. James Horimoto at the helm.
Overview of the engine room with one of its MTU 12v4000 engines and fire pump.
The crew’s firefighting gear.
Voith Schneider cycloidal-drive propulsion.
By Professional Mariner Staff