Navy slashes fire service in Halifax Harbour
Firefighting boat will only be staffed on weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Royal Canadian Navy's only firefighting ship in Halifax Harbour will be stripped of its crew at night and during the weekends, the navy confirmed on Wednesday.
The Firebird is based at HMC Dockyard in Halifax and provides fire protection to the navy's frigates, destroyers and submarines based on the east coast.
The 23-metre ship is currently crewed by five firefighters, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Beginning Monday, the night crew will be removed from the ship and the vessel shut down until morning. No sailors or firefighters will be aboard the ship on weekends.
Capt. Angus Topshee, base commander of CFB Halifax, told CBC News the measure is partly due to cost cutting that is now taking place throughout the Canadian Forces.
"It will be a Monday to Friday, 7:30 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon service," said Topshee.
Canadian warships docked in Halifax often carry explosive weapons and large amounts of fuel for both the ship and helicopters. Topshee said research indicates the risk of a fire is primarily during the work day.
"We've taken a look at when we've actually employed it and when our period of highest risk is. A fire is most likely to occur actually when we're doing the heavy sort of industrial work," he said.
The Firebird sports a bright red superstructure and carries several powerful water jets used to contain fires aboard ships.
In 2008, the Firebird was called upon by Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency to help it put out a blaze aboard a former Canadian Coast Guard ship. Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency said it has requested the services of the Firebird a handful of times since then.
The Royal Canadian Navy said it will call crews back to the ship if an emergency happens during the night or on weekends.
Topshee said no jobs will be lost because of the decision, but he couldn't say how much money will be saved.
The Firebird was launched in 1978 and has a sister ship based on the west coast.