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William Frederick Havemeyer (fireboat)

FDNY fireboat William F. Havermeyer.jpg
FDNY fireboat William F. Havermeyer
Name: William F. Havermeyer
Owner: New York City
In service: 1875
Out of service: 1901
General characteristics
Type: Fireboat
Length: 106 ft (32 m)
Beam: 22 ft (6.7 m)
Draft: 10 ft (3.0 m)
Crew: 10

William Frederick Havemeyer was New York City's first fireboat.[1] The vessel entered service in 1875, and retired in 1901. She was named in honor of a recent mayor, William Frederick Havemeyer.

Design and commissioning

The vessel was ordered in 1874, around the time Havemeyer died.[1] She was a wooden-hulled, steam-powered vessel. She was 106 feet (32 m) long, with a beam of 22 feet (6.7 m), and a draft of 10 feet (3.0 m), and her pumps could throw 6,000 gallons per minute. She was staffed by a crew of ten, and had accommodation for her crew to live on board. She cost $23,800.

Operational life

Confrontation at the sanitation docks

On May 18, 1895, the New York Times reported on a confrontation between William Frederick Havemeyer and Restless, a tugboat chartered to the city's Sanitation Department.[2] A fire had broken out at the Sanitation Department's "dumping wharf". The wharf, a large wooden wharf near 46th Street was used to load barges with the city's garbage. Tugboats, like Restless, would then tow the barges out to sea, where it was dumped.

A colony of homeless men the New York Times called "wharf rats", lived in spaces within the wharf, where they supported themselves by salvaging bottles, rags, and other refuse that had resale value.[2] The New York Times blamed the fire on cooking fires the homeless men used to cook their breakfasts.

When William Frederick Havemeyer arrived at the wharf it found that Restless was already fighting the fire with its less powerful pumps.[2] When Restless refused to get out of the way William Frederick Havemeyer turned its pumps on it. The New York Times reported that the smaller vessel was at risk of being swamped. The conflict between the two vessels consumed fifteen minutes, only ending when a senior fire department official convinced a senior Sanitation Department official to order Restless to get out of the way.

The fire was eventually extinguished when The New Yorker came to assist William Frederick Havemeyer.[2]


  1. ^ a b Clarence E. Meek (July 1954). "Fireboats Through The Years". Marine 1 FDNY. Retrieved 2015-06-28. In August of 1874, the Commissioners contracted with Wood Dialogue & Company, Philadelphia, for the construction of a fireboat at contract price of $23,800. When placed in service on May 12, 1875, the boat, which had been named the William F. Havemeyer, was berthed at the foot of Pike Street. East River, and Engine Company 43 was organized to man her, with two officers, two engineers, pilot and five firemen.
  2. ^ a b c d "Firemen Drive Away a Street-Cleaning Department Tugboat – Meanwhile A Wharf Burns Briskly – A Damping-Place Damaged to the Extent of $5,000 — The Tugboat Held Out Until Threatened by the Havemeyer". New York Times. 1895-05-18. p. 9. Retrieved 2017-11-09. There was a sort of an opera bouffe battle early yesterday morning between a contingent of the Fire Department and the saucy crew of a tugboat at the dumping wharf of the Street-Cleaning Department, at the foot of East Forty-sixth Street.

Further reading