The fireboat Fire Fighter in Greenport will soon be on its way to a shipyard for the first phase of repairs thanks to an increased loan from Southold and Greenport IGA owner Charles Reichert.
“He really came to the rescue,” said Charlie Ritchie, the president of the Fireboat Fire Fighter Museum.
The vessel’s revitalization has been at a standstill because the museum needed to move the Fire Fighter to a shipyard to have the hull surveyed for possible repairs. Mr. Ritchie called this process the first phase and the “most crucial” part of the project.
In 2015, the nonprofit received two reimbursable grants totaling $494,000 toward preserving the vessel. However, the grant money is reimbursed after the project is completed and the museum did not have the funds to lay out the money.
In November, Mr. Reichert said he would match up to $50,000 of donations. He has now taken it one step further and loaned the museum enough money to access some grant money so the museum to move the vessel to J. Goodison Shipyard in Rhode Island. He declined to elaborate on the specific amount of money donated, but noted it’s enough for the boat to be transported, but not enough to cover both grants.
“I just think this boat’s a historical boat and it’s a good thing for Greenport,” said Mr. Reichert, who’s made numerous donations this past year to local schools and for Southold police radio upgrades.
He said he wanted to loan them the money because he sees all of the hard work the men are putting into the vessel and they could pay him back once they are reimbursed with the grant money.
With winter approaching, Mr. Ritchie said he was worried the project could be delayed a year if the boat isn’t moved soon. He said he is more at ease now and is thankful for Mr. Reichert’s generosity and enthusiasm about the project.
“He’s been very positive about the boat and keeping it in Greenport,” Mr. Ritchie said. “It’s been great.”
Mr. Ritchie said while he still needs to finalize the plans for the first phase, he hopes to have the boat ready to move to the shipyard by Jan. 3. The museum plans to continue their fundraising efforts while the boat is at the shipyard.
Photo caption: One of the mostly restored sections of the Fire Fighter, the room where the captain would steer the boat. (Credit: Krysten Massa)