The Old Saybrook Fire Department (OSFD) officially christened its new Fire Boat, the “Gordon B. Smith,” on Sunday, May 23rd, at Saybrook Point. The new boat was manufactured by Moose Boats of Petaluma, CA, and recently delivered to the all-volunteer department. It was placed into service after OSFD firefighters were trained in its operation. It boasts twin Mercury 300 h.p. Verado engines purchased locally at Oak Leaf Marina, Old Saybrook.
Scott Masse, owner, Oak Leaf Marina, provided invaluable assistance during the entire process of designing and constructing this boat. It is capable of pumping 1,000 gallons per minute. An enclosed all-weather cabin allows the boat to respond with both heat and air conditioning for the comfort of the crew, as well as patients being treated in the patient-treatment area. It also boasts advanced maritime and communications electronics, which will greatly assist the OSFD during search and rescue operations.
The boat is named for the first fire chief of the Old Saybrook Fire Department, Gordon B. Smith, who was born on Oct. 9, 1879. He served as Fire Chief from August 26, 1924, through November 13, 1929. He left office to serve as Old Saybrook’s until April 27, 1934. In 1935, he was elected as first selectman serving the town through the devastating 1938 Hurricane and World War II. He died in office on April 5, 1944.
Chief Smith’s daughter, Mary “Betty” VanZandt, Dover, VT, travelled to Old Saybrook to officially break the ceremonial christening champagne bottle on the bow. At the completion of the short ceremony, visiting fire boats from area towns provided a “Wet Down” of the new OSFD Fire Boat. A Wet Down is a ritual celebrated by many fire departments in the United States, in which firefighters from neighboring towns ritualistically commission a new piece of fire apparatus by anointing it with water sprayed from the visitors’ firefighting equipment.