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The Tyne and Wear Fire Boat in Berthon’s Big Blue Sheds

September 14, 2020

Berthon were pleased to welcome the Tyne and Wear Fire Boat to our Marine Services Big Blue Sheds this summer for a comprehensive life extension refit, prolonging the service of the boat.

Starting life as a VT Halmatic MkIII Rigid Raider, the Fire Boat completed a remarkable 15 years in operation before requiring an overhaul.  Berthon won the project by competitive tender and in part due to our ability to offer a comprehensive list of services in one on-site location.   Our remit was to significantly extend the life of the vessel whilst minimising the need for the client to concern themselves with planning logistics.

Berthon’s project management team arranged transportation of the boat from her River Tyne station to our Lymington shipyard in the latter half of June, after lockdown eased.

The list of jobs at the start of the project included:

  • Removal and refitting of any loose equipment
  • Removal and renewal of the bespoke fendering system
  • Laying of a new Treadmaster anti-slip deck covering
  • Large GRP repair to the bow and multiple deck repairs
  • Complete respray of the hull in our onsite spray booth
  • Configuration, fitting and commissioning two new Mariner F90 outboard engines
  • Full refurbishment of the electrical, battery and bilge systems on board

This was a truly comprehensive list of works perfectly suited to our extensively skilled workforce, and one that would allow the vessel to continue to perform through the years and challenges ahead.

As the refit progressed, any unexpected defects were brought immediately to the attention of the client so that their remedial action could be promptly quoted for and approved.  This was particularly important given the large scope of the refit and the urgency to get the vessel back in service saving lives on the Tyne.

Following all hull repair work, the Fire Boat was carefully prepared and sprayed in our world-class painting facility.  Berthon’s team applied several coats of a high-gloss two-component polyurethane paint durable enough to withstand the rigours of the boat’s duties, using air-assisted spray-guns.  This application process gives a flawless, long-lasting finish as requested by the client. Our experience ensures that the right paint product is selected and sprayed at the correct temperature and humidity, resulting in the highest quality finish.

Finally, the boat was put through comprehensive sea trials and commissioning prior to customer acceptance, initially with Berthon’s engineers on board for technical trials.  Then her daily crew from the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service came for acceptance trials, and were delighted with the work completed.

Tom Greer, Tyne and Wear Fire & Rescue Service Technical Manager, commented:

I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for the works you have undertaken on Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s behalf for the refurbishment of our Fireboat “Fossway”.

This project had, as you are aware, many unforeseen problems commencing at first with the outbreak of COVID-19, then the number of unexpected defects that you came across as the project progressed.

I am especially grateful to you for the regular communications with us, keeping us up to speed on how the works were progressing.

On the day of the trials, my colleagues and myself were greatly impressed by the facilities at your yard and of the thorough workout of the vessel and the speed that the issues identified were addressed.

The professionalism and communication throughout the project have been second to none. In conclusion, please forward my thanks to your team for their contribution to making this project the success it is.

Project Manager Ben Slater said:

Berthon’s extensive on-site capabilities and experience were ideal for this Fire Boat project.  Without the need for complicated transportation between facilities and a fantastic team on hand to remedy any defect found, we were able to quickly and effectively complete the refit to the highest standards and minimal hassle to the client.  More importantly the entire refit was completed on budget – right down to the klaxon and flashing blue lights.”

Berthon have worked carefully to minimise risk wherever possible through the Coronavirus pandemic.  The Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service were due to visit our site for a mid-refit check-up however; in light of the challenges this year has presented, the project management team at Berthon used a combination of video-call walk-throughs and Microsoft Teams to share photographs and technical information.

This was immensely successful and an example of what technology, trust and pragmatism can achieve.  This service will be suggested to all future clients in an effort to assist in the reduction of unnecessary expenditure in both time and money whilst also maintaining a safer site.

The Fire Boat looks fantastic after her refurbishment, and she will shortly be delivered back to the River Tyne to resume service.

For all new enquiries, please contact Business Development Manager, Ben Bradley-Watson

(T) + 44 (0) 1590 647 416


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