Fireboat Fire Fighter deadline comes and goes; relocation uncertain

FILE PHOTO | Firefighter still docked in Greenport Harbor despite board's demand for it to relocate.
FILE PHOTO | Fire Fighter is still docked in Greenport Harbor despite board’s demand for it to relocate.

The Village Board’s deadline for fireboat Fire Fighter to move from the railroad dock in Greenport has arrived without any action being taken against the historic ship, which remains ported in harbor with no “definite” plans to relocate in the near future, Fire Fighter museum president Charlie Ritchie Friday.A month ago, board members unanimously approved a resolution that terminates licensing for the berthing of Fire Fighter at any village-controlled dock, effective Feb. 28.

Since then, Mr. Ritchie has applied for a two-month extension on the deadline, but has not received a formal response from village officials, stating only that village administrator David Abatelli informed him that there is no immediate need to relocate.

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“The weather and finances are going against us right now,” Mr. Ritchie said, noting that moving Fire Fighter would be very expensive for the nonprofit, which has been holding out hope of finding it a permanent home.

Mr. Abatelli said Friday that the village attorney was responsible for communicating with fireboat personnel on the legal aspect of the deadline.

The village attorney did not immediately return calls for comment, nor did Mayor David Nyce.

While the Village of Greenport leases the railroad dock from Suffolk County for a token fee of $1 per year, the county has the right to refuse any sublease agreement the village enters into regarding the dock.

County officials have said they never signed off on the village’s decision to move the boat, and have remained silent on the issue as of late.

Last year, the boat’s owners had been served notice by its insurance company that in order to keep its policy, it would have to be pulled from the water for an inspection. However it had secured a new policy by the deadline, stating on its website in early February that, “The Fire Fighter does indeed have a sound hull and poses no greater threat to the environment than any other ship plying Greenport’s waters on a regular basis.”

The pressure to rid the fireboat from Greenport was turned up in October when the Village of Greenport received a letter from the county attorney’s office stating that the decommissioned 134-foot fireboat would need to vacate the railroad dock within three weeks, or the county would take further action.

That deadline came and went without any change in the boat’s berthing location.

Four months later, no legal has been taken against the fireboat by the county or the village, Mr. Ritchie said.

“We’re on standby,” Mr. Ritchie said. “Whatever their decision is, we will try to work with it.”