Marine Operations Team
The history of the City of Alexandria is rich in seafaring traditions. While the City is no longer the seaport of the past, seagoing vessels ply the waters of the Potomac River and tie up to the docks along the Alexandria Waterfront. Vessels of all types, including pleasure boats, cruise liners, transport ships, tour ships and ships of war, routinely run the Potomac or tie up to docks along Alexandria's river front. In addition, during the warm weather months, thousands of residents and visitors can be found along the waterfront.
In 1997, the City of Alexandria Fire Department initiated development of the Waterfront Operations Team to assist in the protection of citizens and mariners who use the various waterways in and adjacent to the city either for business or recreation. The Team was later renamed the Marine Operations Team to better reflect the multiple roles of the team, which include Open Water and Swift Water Rescue as well as Marine Firefighting (all members are trained to NFPA 1405 guidelines). Working out of two fire stations, members of the Marine Operations Team also work with Metropolitan Washington Council of Government member departments, both Police and Fire, to provide protection to those imperiled in the marine environment across the region.
The City of Alexandria Marine Operations Team consists of 24 members and a Team Leader (Battalion Chief) trained and training as Marine Firefighters, Swift Water Rescue Technicians, Lifeguards, Boat Operators and Crewmembers.
Boat 204 and Boat 214: Designed to be rapidly deployed in all weather conditions, these Zodiac inflatables are used by the Marine Operations Team to gain rapid access to persons in distress in the marine environment. They can also be utilized to assist members of the Hazardous Materials in deploying booms. The inflatables are towed by Engine 204 or Support Unit 204 (Chevy Suburban), which is equipped with a variety of water rescue equipment.
Fireboat 201 Vigilant: Vigilant is a Class 'C' fireboat equipped with a 1500 gpm PTO pump and a full compliment of equipment as required by NFPA 1925. Powered by twin Cummings diesels and Hamilton hydro jets, Vigilant can run at greater than 40 knots. Paramedics can be deployed aboard Vigilant to give the vessel an Advanced Life Support capability.
Members of the Marine Operations Team train to meet NFPA guidelines and standards including NFPA 1405, Marine Firefighting for Land-Based Firefighters. and NFPA 1670, Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Rescue Incidents. Additional training includes Swift Water Rescue, Ice Rescue, American Red Cross Lifeguard and the USCGA Boating Skills and Seamanship or an equivalent. MOT members routinely train with member jurisdictions in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Potomac River Rescue Association. Members of the Marine Operations Team are required to attend at least 24 hours of continuing education per year to remain members of the team.
In November 2004 Fireboat Vigilant joined forces with Fireboat #1 John Glenn (District of Columbia FD), Fireboat #512 Firestorm (OWL VFD, Prince William Co., Virginia) and Fireboat #420 Gunston Hall (Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire & Rescue Department) to provide mariners and other users of the upper tidal Potomac River with an unparalleled level of protection.
Swift water rescue teams are also located throughout the city and region and operate regardless of the environment or jurisdictional boundary.
For additional information about the Alexandria Fire Department's Marine Operations Team, e-mail Battalion Chief John North.