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Abram S. Hewitt (fireboat)

Fire Boat, 'Abram S. Hewitt', during the 1905 Terminal Fire, Hoboken, N.J. Postmarked May 9, 1908.jpg
Abram S. Hewitt in 1905.
United States
Name: Abram S. Hewitt
Operator: Fire Department of New York City
Builder: New York Shipbuilding Corporation
Launched: July 11, 1903
In service: 1903
Out of service: 1958
Status: Abandoned at Staten Island boat graveyard
General characteristics
Type: Fireboat
Length: 117 feet (36 m)
Beam: 25 feet (7.6 m)
Draft: 10.5 feet (3.2 m)
Notes: Pumping capacity 7,000 gallons per minute

The Abram S. Hewitt was a coal-powered fireboat operated by the Fire Department of New York City from 1903 to 1958.[1][2][3] She was the department's last coal-powered vessel and had a pumping capacity of 7,000 gallons per minute.

She was launched on July 11, 1903, at the shipyards of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden, New Jersey.[4] She was commissioned in October 1903, and was named after recently deceased former mayor Abram Hewitt.[4][1][2][5]

Operational history

According to some accounts, she was the first fireboat called to the 1904 burning of the General Slocum, where over a thousand people lost their lives.[1][2] Other accounts say the Zophar Mills was the first fireboat to be dispatched.[6]

On August 14, 1913, a fire was discovered at a large oil storage yard, on what was then Long Island City, and the Abram S. Hewitt was sent to try to put it out.[7] While extinguishing the fire her "bow gun", her frontmost water cannon, burst from her footings, flying into the air, and striking Bertram Johnson, the firefighter assigned to it. He was declared dead, at the scene.

On January 28, 1927, the Abram S. Hewitt's captain, John Connoly, was jolted into the Hudson River by a collision.[8] Although he was burdened by heavy fire equipment he was able to swim to a barge, where he clung to a boathook lowered to him by a crew member. It took the Abram S. Hewitt half an hour to return and rescue him, because it was damaged by the collision.

On April 29, 1930, the Abram S. Hewitt responded when Cornelius Vanderbilt III's luxurious yacht, the Winchester, was set ablaze following a boiler explosion.[9]

The Abram S. Hewitt was called to assist other fireboats when a large fire burst out of control a second time.[10] The fire burst out at pier 4. Barrels of flammable liquids had destroyed the pier, and two neighboring piers, but firefighters thought the blaze had been brought under control. However, when it burst out again the Abram S. Hewitt was better suited to navigate through debris, close to the fire.

The Abram S. Hewitt was eventually taken to the Staten Island boat graveyard.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "SHIP GRAVEYARD, ROSSVILLE, Staten Island". Forgotten NY. Retrieved 2015-06-28. One of the rusting hulks, er, retired vessels is the fireboat Abram S. Hewitt, which was in active service from 1903-1958. The fireboat, named for NYC mayor Abram Stevens Hewitt (1822-1903) was built by New York Shipbuilding in Camden, NJ and launched the year the mayor died; she served in the NYC fireboat fleet until 1958. It was the last coal-burning fireboat in operation.
  2. ^ a b c Clarence E. Meek (July 1954). "Fireboats Through The Years". Retrieved 2015-06-28.
  3. ^ Brian J. Cudahy (1997). "Around Manhattan Island". Fordham University Press. pp. 112–114. ISBN 9780823217618. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  4. ^ a b "Fireboat Abram S. Hewitt Launched". Camden, NJ: The New York Times. 1903-07-12. p. 1. Retrieved 2017-03-24.
  5. ^ "The "Abram S. Hewitt" and the "Firefighter" extinguishing a pier fire". New York City Department of Records and Information Services. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  6. ^ "North Brother Island". Forgotten NY. Retrieved 2015-06-28.
  7. ^ "FIREBOAT NOZZLE KILLS A FIREMAN; Blown Off by the Force of Water, It Hits Bertram Johnson in the Head". The New York Times. 1913-08-14. p. 18. Retrieved 2017-03-24. When a costly fire started early yesterday morning in the case factory of the Devoe oil yards at the foot of Ninth Street, Long Island City, the Abram S. Hewitt was one of the fireboats that came in from the water side to supplement the fourteen land companies that were fighting the blaze from the shore.
  8. ^ "Fireman Saved After Half Hour in Icy River; Jolted Off Fireboat, He Clings to Boathook". The New York Times. 1927-01-28. p. 21. Retrieved 2017-03-24. Lieutenant John Connolly, 58 years old, of 932 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, narrowly escaped being frozen or drowned at daybreak yesterday when he was jolted off the deck of the fireboat Abram S. Hewitt, which he commanded, into the icy waters of the East River with the temperature only 1 degree above zero.
  9. ^ "VANDERBILT YACHT AFIRE AFTER BLAST; Gasoline Explosion Rips Up the Deck of Winchester as Speedy Craft Lies in East River. BELLEVUE WINDOWS RATTLE Tug and Fireboat Put Out Flames After Suites on $500,000 Vessel Are Damaged--Crew Unhurt. Cause of Blast Not Learned. Bellevue Windows Shaken. Yacht Arrived Month Ago". The New York Times. 1930-04-29. p. 16. Retrieved 2017-03-24.
  10. ^ "Loss of millions". The New York Times. 1944-08-12. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  11. ^ "The Boatyard - Shaun O'Boyle". Retrieved 27 January 2016.