Fireboat museum awarded $80K grant for restoration work

05/06/2015 10:00 AM |
The Fire Fighter boat as it appeared in 2013. (Credit: File photo)

The Fire Fighter boat as it appeared in 2013. (Credit: File photo)

The decommissioned FDNY fireboat serving as a floating museum in Greenport Harbor has been awarded an $80,000 National Maritime Heritage Grant, the museum’s president announced Tuesday.

But the grant requires donations to match the federal funds.

“We’re only half way there but it’s a step in the right direction,” said the museum’s president, Charlie Ritchie. “It’s a one-for-one match.”

Mr. Ritchie said the group will be raising money through various efforts, and also hopes to be apply state grant money to help reach that $80,000 goal.

Once all the money is raised, the $160,000 would be enough to complete necessary work to the ship’s hull.

A restored hull “will allow the vessel to move, get underway, take passengers out on the water, and be more viable as an attraction,” he said. “As of this point, our insurance is limiting us to just exercising the boat out on the water but not taking passengers out.”

The Fireboat Fire Fighter, a National Historic Landmark, is the most highly decorated fireboat in the world, museum officials say.

The decommissioned 76-year-old vessel, the longest serving FDNY fireboat in history, is open for tours on weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is berthed adjacent to the Shelter Island ferry dock in Greenport.

Volunteers are also welcome at the vessel at any time and have been working to restore the boat above the hull.

“After many a boat was retired, she continued to serve, fighting over 50 pier and ship fires, including the World Trade Center on Sept. 11,” Mr. Ritchie said in a statement issued to the press about the grant. “Now she gets a new lease on life in her golden years, a chance to share her decks with the rest of the country, and to show why she truly is ‘America’s Fireboat.’

“This is a tribute to her crewmates, her architect William Francis Gibbs, and to a truly unique time in American shipbuilding.”

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