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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tracking the Boston Fire Department Fireboat

The Boston Fire Department operates one main fireboat, a 72 foot long craft named "Firefighter". The boat is headquartered at Burroughs Wharf in the North End of Boston. It's been in service since 1972, but is due to be replaced soon. Besides responding to boat fires, the BFD Marine Unit also responds to bridge fires, pier fires, and marine rescue situations.

Marine vessels over 300 tons, and all passenger vessels, are required to be fitted with what is known as AIS (Automatic Identification System). Tugs, pilots, and rescue vessels are also commonly equipped with this system, which constantly transmits location, course, and speed information. 

These transmissions can be monitored by anyone with the right equipment. Commonly, these are shared and fed into a centralized database and plotted on a map by a service like Ship Finder. You can use this website to track the Firefighter, as you can see below (the large orange & red icon). 

You can also use this website to track the cargo ships that come in and out of port, including the large LNG tankers. 

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