Nova Scotia

Royal Canadian Navy cuts fire service in Halifax Harbour

The Royal Canadian Navy's only firefighting ship in Halifax Harbour has been declared surplus and is slated for disposal.

Firebird will be replaced with tugboats, dockyard fire department

The Royal Canadian Navy's only firefighting ship in Halifax Harbour has been declared surplus and is slated for disposal.

The CFAV Firebird was based at HMC Dockyard in Halifax and provided fire protection to the navy's frigates, destroyers and submarines based on the East Coast.

The navy took the 23-metre ship out of operation Dec. 4, a spokesman told CBC News on Wednesday.

Capt. Peter Ryan, a spokesman for Maritime Forces Atlantic, said the navy will instead use a combination of tugboats and the dockyard fire department to fight any fires aboard ships in the harbour.

There are three tugboats at the dockyard that are fitted with water cannons, said Ryan, adding all navy ships are fitted with firefighting equipment and all military members are trained to use it.

HMC Dockyard has its own fire department that is manned 24 hours a day.

"People have been reassigned," said Ryan. "No jobs have been lost."

Ryan said he didn't know how much money would be saved by getting rid of the fire boat. 

The Firebird had been crewed by five firefighters, 24 hours a day, seven days a week until January 2014. That's when the navy removed the night crew from the ship and the vessel was shut down at night and on weekends.

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 Firebird was launched in 1978.

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