On the eve of the 2016 Newport International Boat Show, 26 firefighters from the Newport Fire Department will go back to school for two days of special training in how to fight fires aboard yachts, ships, and in marinas and yacht yards.

“The training follows the Newport City Council’s 5-2 decision to accept a federal grant for the procurement of a new CRBNE Fire/Rescue Boat (Chemical, Radiological, Biological, Nuclear and Explosive). Another local fire department reports that 2016 has been the worst year for boat fires, distress alarms and accidents on the water including seven boat fires and 72 distress alarms. Portsmouth, Providence, and North Kingstown are currently the only first responders on Narragansett Bay that have a boat with firefighting capabilities,” according to a Media Advisory provided to What’sUpNewp by AIG’s Private Client Group.

Back on August 24th and at their regularly scheduled meeting, the majority of Newport City Council voted to accept the 2016 Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) Award for the procurement of a new Fire & Rescue Boat. Those voting in favor of the resolution say there will be plenty of time to “vet out the process” before committing to the grant in October.

Third Ward City Councilor Kate Leonard, who was one of the two to vote ‘no’ on the grant, stated “Council received no notice of this happening,” when What’sUpNewp asked City Council members for comment.

Councilor Leonard was the only member of City Council to respond to our request for comment by time of publishing.

According to Newport Fire Department Chief Connerton, there is no cost to the City or Newport Fire Department for this training. It is sponsored by AIG Insurance who bear all of the costs for the instruction.

“The training was approved by the City Manager. Carl Lessard of AIG Insurance has approached the department every year, over the last few years, about instructing the training. I believe Mr. Lessard reached out to us this year in either late June or early July. Unfortunately up until this year the department always had a scheduling conflict, as we were holding other Firefighting classes or were in the middle of training new recruits which took precedence over this opportunity. Additionally, I don’t believe this is just a onetime opportunity, but will let Mr. Lessard speak to that” Chief Connerton went on to share with What’sUpNewp.

“The 26 personnel that will be taking part represent 29.55% of Fire Suppression personnel.” Chief Connerton told us. “Most of the members attending will be on duty for the two day training, but I also believe there will be some who will be taking part off duty and uncompensated. Additionally, we can have our in house certified 1041 Fire & Emergency Service Instructors relay this training to their respective Shifts.”

The program on September 13 – 14, which will be led by retired U.S. Navy Firefighter Tom Jones, will be hosted by AIG’s Private Client Group, Resolve Maritime Academy and the Newport Shipyard. It will include classroom instruction and a private yacht facility tour.

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).