Fireboat Would Boost Port Security for NH

Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Union Leader reported that security at the Port of New Hampshire is expected to be enhanced by the acquisition of a boat, which would be used to fight maritime fires and help in other water-based emergencies. The information was offered yesterday to members of the of the Pease Development Authority's Division of Ports and Harbors Port Use Ad Hoc Committee. Portsmouth Assistant Fire Chief Steve Achilles told the committee, chaired by State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, the vessel is expected to be ready by the fall of next year. The fire official said he hopes the vessel can be based at the state-run port on Market Street, since the location provides the best possible access to the Piscataqua River. Port Executive Director Geno Marconi told the committee his agency has a federally approved engineering plan, to build a small boat ramp, where the fire department vessel could be moored. However, $250,000, from the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration, to build the ramp, is not yet available.

The future city fireboat is one portion of the port's overall security plan. Marconi said that as a result of Sept. 11, the U.S. Coast Guard required the state to have a security plan in place by December 31, 2003 and implemented by July 1, 2004. Under federal regulations, the plan must be audited. With the assistance of a Massachusetts-based consultant, the audit was completed in July. Security improvements at the port include the construction of a new guard shack, the installation of perimeter lighting, as well as closed circuit television and monitoring equipment, whose software is now being installed. The total cost of the security improvements is $1.54 million, of which $320,000 comes from the port. Committee members were also briefed on oil-spill prevention and clean-up services available from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

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