July 6, 2013

Report on Portland fireboat accident leaves questions

Portland releases the report 11 days after a judge orders city officials to provide it to the Press Herald.

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

The MV City of Portland IV fire boat in Portland on October 19, 2011. The MV City of Portland IV fire boat in Portland on October 19, 2011. The Portland Fire Department's report on the accident involving its fireboat in 2011 says the crew steered across a channel, rather than down the middle, and went directly over a ledge and a wreck that were clearly identified by the $3.2 million boat's electronic navigation aids.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

Related Documents

PDF: Fireboat crash investigatory findings
PDF: Fireboat investigation's conclusions

Most of the blame is assigned to Murphy, who Pendleton wrote exhibited a “lack of situational awareness.”

Pendleton ultimately concluded that Murphy went on “an inappropriate and unsafe course” and ran over a ledge and the wreck.

“The contact with one or both of these obstructions caused the damage to the port shaft, prop, strut and rudder,” Pendleton wrote.

A “conclusion” paragraph written by then-Chief Fred LaMontagne says he ordered a review of the Marine Division’s policies, issued a new policy restricting transportation of civilians on city fireboats, clarified reporting requirements with the Coast Guard, and promised to review the training and certification of Marine Division firefighters.

The city suspended Goodall and Murphy shortly after the accident, but the two appealed their discipline. An arbitrator reduced their suspensions and ordered Portland to repay the two more than $1,100 in back wages, with most of it going to Goodall.

The report released Friday includes a Coast Guard track of the City of Portland IV on the day of the accident, tide charts, a fire department staffing report and a copy of a staffing policy for the department’s Marine Division.

It also includes several poorly photocopied documents, including a two-page copy of a report on the accident filed with the Coast Guard. The only readable section indicates that the pilot did not have a Coast Guard license and the weather was clear and visibility good at the time of the accident.

A 10-line description of the accident is illegible, as is the name of the person who filled out the report.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:


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