The 134-foot Fire Fighter, a decommissioned vessel that was in service with the New York City Fire Department from 1938 until 2010, floated into Greenport Village in February 2013.
The big red fireboat was a welcome sight for many, celebrated for its history and for the educational opportunities it would bring. Fire Fighter was to serve as that large, historic attraction that seems to be docked in many an established port town. (Think the NYC’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum or Groton’s Submarine Force Library & Museum.)
Now it will be just a footnote in the area’s recent history of resurgence.
And that’s a shame.
Not long after its arrival, Fire Fighter was moved from the more exclusive Mitchell Park Marina to the troubled waters of the county-owned but village-run railroad dock. There it became ensnared between two governmental jurisdictions. County and village officials never appeared to be on the same page and, as governments are apt to do, began focusing on the negatives and fearing what would happen if something went wrong with the boat — instead of working on how to ensure that things went right.
Most of all, complacency was at work in the demise of Fire Fighter, and not just in government. The boat could have used more support from the community as well.
So as this piece of history sails off — as it’s required by the village to do by Feb. 28 — let it be a lesson in what can be lost if we take its presence for granted.