To the Editor,
As we struggle to keep the mightiest water bomber working here in B.C., the province burns, and the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations is looking to Yukon for more bombers. It is a shortsighted shame we are not utilizing Hawaii Mars, especially as she is needed now, and considering future global warming.
My mind goes back to 1987 when the Vancouver city fathers retired to basically the scrap heap the mighty “Fireboat No. 2”. She displaced 188 tons, was 88 feet long with a 22-foot beam, was built at Yarrows Shipyard Victoria B.C. in 1951. She was the most powerful fireboat in the world in terms of pumping capacity, an amazing 26,000 gal/minute.
Following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco and the serious fires at Marina District two anonymous donors there paid $350,000 for our retired fireboat. In 1990 she was recommissioned and was renamed Guardian. San Francisco rejoiced and had a parade in honour of their good fortune from B.C.
Last summer while watching the America’s Cup Yacht Races from San Francisco Bay I was astonished and most pleased to see our old “Fireboat No. 2,” mid bay. With all her monitors full out she was pumping more water than any other vessel in the world has ever pumped, all this time, she still is on duty, guarding the harbour, proud and strong. It was an amazing sight that made this America’s Cup special for me.
The Hawaii Mars water bomber and the vessel Guardian have several things in common: both are painted the same red and white Canadian and firefighting colours, both are about the same age and have the same B.C. connection and the same job, which is to fight fires with the biggest possible punch available in the world. And somehow, it seems, neither are good enough or wanted in B.C.
It is true, “a prophet is not recognised in his own land.” It seems that we keep repeating the same shortsighted mistakes over and over.