The state owns the 110-foot fireboat Moku Ahi. It pays the city of Honolulu more than $2 million for maintenance and to staff the vessel with six 24-hour-a-day firefighters and crew.
In a letter to the Honolulu Fire Chief Kenneth Silva, state harbors director Michael Formby said inter-agency meetings about harbor fire protection, which included the Coast Guard, "seem to indicate there are limited marine firefighting applications for a dedicated fireboat.bringing into question the continued viability of such an asset."
Formby also said the program is $300,000 over budget in this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2010.
Formby's letter proposed reducing the 6-person, 24-hour staff for the fireboat to just two people.
The fire department says that would not be safe.
That's our fundamental concern, our firefighter safety and the safety to the public, said fire department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig.
But the fire department said its up to the state if it wants to eliminate the fireboat, Seelig said. He said most commercial ships and many harbor users have their own firefighting capability. The state says it will continue talking with the fire department and coast guard to determine the solution in the best interest of safety and the needs of the harbor.
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