Harvey hits the History Channel
After well over a year in production, The History Channel will soon broadcast a documentary on the history of the Fireboats of the New York City Fire Department.
The 90 minute program will cover fireboat development since our first boat in 1866; some of the many fires, disasters, and emergencies these boats have worked at over the years; and the heroic exploits of their crews – many of which are interviewed.
There are also segments on the restoration of the 1931 fireboat John J. Harvey (see www.fireboat.org); and the fireboats’ role at the World Trade Center and their rescue of Captain Fuentes.
The program is scheduled to be shown on Monday night, September 8, 2003 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. Check your local listing as the date gets close since these schedules have been known to change at the last minute. The title is “The Fireboats of 9/11.” The History Channel’s press release is attached.
The program was produced by Dreamtime Entertainment (www.dreamtimeentertainment.com) and was done with the cooperation of the New York Fire Department (FDNY).
I was historical consultant on the project.
Al Trojanowicz, Marine Historian (FDNY, ret.)
Historic fireboat's foe: The scrap pile
An ancient fireboat with a history of heroic crews, one of which pumped water on the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center, now needs a savior of its own. The John J. Harvey valiantly patrolled the waters around New York City for decades, but the 75-year-old vessel is docked upstate in desperate need of funds for an extensive rehabilitation. "She's an incredibly important boat, as the first modern fireboat and as a reminder of our city's history on water," said Huntley Gill, one of the ship's coordinators. "No one wants to lose her." Built by the FDNY as its firefighting flagship, the 130-foot vessel became a model for fireboats around the world when it hit the water in 1931. The ship fought two of the region's most famous nautical fires: in 1942, it battled the raging inferno that sank the Normandie, then the most opulent* ocean liner in the world. A year later, it helped subdue a blaze aboard the ammunition ship El Estero, preventing an explosion that would have endangered thousands of lives around New York Harbor, said Tim Ivory, the vessel's chief engineer. Painted red, white and black, the 268-ton steel ship fought fires for the FDNY until it was decommissioned in 1995 and appeared destined for the scrap heap. But a team of eight preservationists bought the boat for $28,000 in 1999 and turned it into a floating museum that gives tours of the Hudson for some of New York's underprivileged youths. The terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, pressed it back into service. After the first plane hit the twin towers, several of the boat's crew assembled at its West Side pier and ventured south to evacuate workers from lower Manhattan. "I couldn't get across the George Washington Bridge, so I bummed a ride from another boat and got across the river to the John J. Harvey," Ivory said. "We had to do something." The ship was contacted by the FDNY and asked to help put water on the fire, because the hydrants near Ground Zero were not working. For the next 80 hours, the ancient boat - without a single active firefighter aboard - fed a line of hoses that helped subdue the raging fire. "We simply did not stop. We knew they needed our help and didn't care how old our boat was," Ivory said. "I was happy to be helping by doing what I know best." Today, however, the ship is in dire need of repair. From Kingston, N.Y., it will be moved to a dry dock in Bridgeport, Conn., for a major overhaul, said Jessica DuLong, one of the boat's engineers. The state offered a matching grant of $320,000, but the full gift is only accessible if the boat's owners raise $640,000, Gill said. Supporters have solicited $160,000 so far and are planning a major fund-raiser early next year. "One way or another, we will raise the money we need," he said. "The boat is too important to let go