New Norwich fire boat bears a familiar name

Norwich — Retired Fire Chief Kenneth Scandariato was honored to be invited Thursday to see the arrival of the Norwich Fire Department’s new $338,000 Marine 1 fire/rescue boat that he had secured grant funding to purchase.

But he wasn’t prepared for one detail included by the four-member committee he established to write specifications for the boat and its equipment.

As the truck hauling the trailer carrying the boat turned the corner onto Falls Avenue in front of Thayer’s Marine, Scandariato saw the red lettering on its side: “Chief Scand.”

“Are you sure?” he said. “I really don’t know what to say. I’m humbled. For the first time in my career, I’m speechless.”

The name was a well-kept secret by firefighters and even his wife, Carol Scandariato, who chose the lettering and the red color. Fire Lt. Nate Kannas said once the name was chosen, committee members did not know how to write it. “Chief Kenneth Scandariato” would be a bit long. They consulted with Carol, and she picked his commonly used nickname — even his fire department coat was emblazoned with Chief Scand.

The new Marine 1 will replace the city’s 1980 leaky and obsolete fire/rescue boat, which was sold by the city at auction for $6,600, and a smaller boat, sold for $4,000.

Scandariato recalled trying to lobby to include a new fire boat in the $3.2 million public safety bond approved by voters in 2017 but was told by the City Council’s Public Safety Committee it would not be included. The bond covered five new firetrucks for the city’s volunteer fire departments and cameras for the police department.

Scandariato was told if he wanted a boat, “go get a grant.” In fall of 2017, as the firetruck referendum was placed on the ballot, Norwich received approval for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for $253,856 to cover 75 percent of the cost of the new, fully equipped vessel and trailer, with the city’s share at $84,619.

The city sought to save money by having the existing trailer renovated to fit the new Chief Scand Marine 1. Committee Chairman Kannas said workers at Thayer’s Marine are assisting with measurements of the trailer and the new boat to work out a renovation plan.

The new vessel, built by Metal Craft Marine Inc. of Cape Vincent, N.Y., is a major upgrade for the fire department’s water response. The committee of Lt. Kannas, Lt. Tim Teper and firefighters Adam Griffin and Brendan Johnson worked on the design specifications and equipment for the vessel.

The boat will be docked at Norwich Harbor and will be in the water year-round. The water cannon on the old boat could shoot 500 gallons per minute, while the new Marine 1 can fire 1,500 gallons per minute. The boat has more water rescue recovery equipment, can accommodate the regional dive team and is equipped for search and rescue operations, including infrared equipment for night vision, as well as hazardous materials response, and has a communications system integrated with other departments throughout the region, Kannas said.

New Fire Chief Tracy Montoya said he already received one request for the boat two weeks ago, when New London responded to a fire in a vacant waterfront building. Montoya had to say the new boat hadn’t arrived yet. He said the closest similar vessel is in Mystic.

All 52 Norwich firefighters will cross-train on the vessel starting next week in Norwich Harbor, shooting the water cannon and maneuvering up and down the Thames River. The vessel normally will have a minimum crew of three operators and has deck space for the dive team operators.

“The four guys on the committee did a spectacular job spec-ing out the boat,” Montoya said. “It meets our needs of what a fire department is expected to do now.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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