OC Eyes Dock For Fire Boat

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City Fire Chief Chris Larmore presented the department’s quarterly report this week, including a proposed ambulance replacement schedule and a request to use 13th Street and the bay as the berth facility for Ocean City Fire Department’s Fireboat.

The ambulance replacement schedule sets a time line to replace ambulances and allow planned purchases to be budgeted as well as maximize the use of the vehicle fleet.

Larmore explained the ambulance replacement schedule reflects the means of the previously approved fire apparatus replacement schedule that was a $12 million plan but also reduced the funding of fire trucks by 50 percent over the next 10 years.

“I think that goes a long way to be able to utilize a long-range plan,” he said. “I hope to do the same thing with the ambulances and in summary we would like to … replace one ambulance a year, and I think one can really argue that there is not a more important vehicle that needs to be reliable.”

The department currently has nine ambulances, the oldest is a 2000 model and the newest is a 2007. All of the ambulances combined run about 100,000 miles a year and as the vehicles age repair costs are increasing. Currently, four ambulances have more than 100,000 miles on them and two are over 90,000.

Next, Larmore requested of the Mayor and City Council to use city-owned property, 13th Street and the bay, to be used as the dock site of the fire boat.

According to Captain Josh Bunting, the council’s approval will allow the department to apply for the dock and lift at the location. The process will be the same for any other maritime construction projects, including application and review by the Board of Port Wardens, Army Corps of Engineers, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which can take several months.

Neighbors of the property will also be notified, specifically the Aronimink 6 Condominiums and single-family homes on 13th Street.

“Once we start speaking to the neighbors, I can ensure that we will be a good neighbor,” Larmore said.

Bunting submitted that a portion of the funding for the project is included in the FY 2013 Maryland DNR Waterway Improvement Grant, which the department expects awarding of to occur sometime in mid-May. Any additional necessary funding will come in next year’s budget.

The berth facility of the fire boat was chosen following a manpower availability and location study to ensure efficiency, quick response and availability for service regardless of weather, traffic conditions and civilian vessel congestion as well as the best access for personnel and equipment to access the fireboat in the event it is needed on a maritime or shore-based emergency.

The berth facility will have to undergo the construction of pilings, a dock and a boat lift. Also, security will be added with the installation of lighting and fencing for the street end, which means electricity will have to be installed and a freshwater supply. Storage will also be built to store equipment and gear.

The Mayor and City Council voted unanimously to approve the berth location of the fire boat.
In conclusion, Larmore guaranteed that the department is prepared for the busy 2012 summer season.

“I am confident that we are going to provide an even better service and try to trim that remarkable response time by a few more seconds,” he said.