VESSEL REVIEW | Zenith – Response craft for Washington State fire and rescue unit

EMERGENCY SERVICES WEEK
Photo: Metal Shark Boats

Metal Shark Boats of Louisiana has delivered a new welded aluminium firefighting boat to South King Fire and Rescue in King County, Washington.

Zenith measures 43 by 12 feet (13 by 3.6 metres) and is built for operation in both inshore and offshore waters. The boat features a proven Metal Shark hull design that has been engineered and built to precise tolerances.

To ensure long service life, the vessel’s hull, deck, and superstructure are composed entirely of heavy, precision-welded plates of corrosion-resistant aluminium. Also, thanks to its wide beam, pronounced reverse chines, and ample heft, the boat can remain highly stable while underway, at rest, or pumping water.

Photo: South King Fire and Rescue

The boat is fitted with three water monitors, a bow push knee, tow posts, a radar, and a rotating thermal camera. The firefighting pump has a discharge rate of 3,000 gallons (11.35 cubic metres) per minute and a throw distance of 400 feet (121 metres), allowing the boat to extinguish fires even on larger vessels such as cruise ships and container vessels.

The onboard layout consists of wide-open workspaces that facilitate safe crew movement from bow to stern even when wearing heavy firefighting gear. The boat also has wide, non-skid walkways with low-level LED lighting for night missions. Metal Shark said careful consideration has been given to the placement of all rails and grab handles. A urethane-sheathed, closed-cell foam collar provides impact resistance during alongside manoeuvres.

Photo: Metal Shark Boats

The vessel features a pilothouse with Metal Shark’s patented “pillarless glass,” which significantly reduces blind spots compared to earlier fireboats with traditional pilothouse layouts featuring smaller, framed windows. A reversed-raked windshield with prominent brow shade reduces heat load and glare. An overhead skylight array provides an unobstructed upward view while operating alongside ships or elevated structures, or during helicopter hoisting operations. Large, quickly-sliding side windows and the extra-wide cabin door facilitate communication to crewmembers in the cockpit and allow quick and easy ingress/egress while wearing full gear.

The aft transom is open and positioned low enough to permit easy access between the deck and the water, a key attribute during water rescues.

Zenith was acquired for a cost of US$1.3 million with around US$750,000 coming from state grant funding. The boat entered service with South King Fire and Rescue in June 2022, replacing a 36-year-old vessel. Its main area of responsibility encompasses the portion of Puget Sound between the cities of Seattle and Tacoma, where it will operate alongside the US Coast Guard and other partner agencies. Secondary functions will include evacuation of sick or injured King County residents if weather conditions will prevent the use of medical transport helicopters.

Photo: Metal Shark Boats

Click here for more news stories, feature articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s focus on emergency services vessels.

Zenith
SPECIFICATIONS
Type of vessel:Firefighting and rescue vessel
Flag:USA
Owner:South King Fire and Rescue, Washington, USA
Builder:Metal Shark Boats, USA
Hull construction material:Aluminium
Superstructure construction material:Aluminium
Deck construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:43 feet (13 metres)
Beam:12 feet (3.6 metres)
Fendering:Urethane; foam
External lighting:LED
Firefighting equipment:Pump; 3 x monitors
Operational area:Puget Sound, Washington, USA

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