This story was originally published on February 28th, it was last updated on March 22nd.

Six months after becoming the talk of the town, the City Of Newport has moved forward with acquiring a new fire boat.awarding a contract to build a new fire boat for Newport Fire Department.

At their March 22nd meeting, Newport City Council voted in favor of awarding a contract to build a new fire boat for Newport Fire Department.

With the favorable vote, the resolution states that the “City Council, on behalf of the Newport Fire Department, accepts the proposal from Moose Boats, Inc. of Vallejo, CA to construct a Fire & Rescue Boat with CBRNE capabilities for the sum of $887,642.00 utilizing the U.S. Government Services Administration, Schedule #84, and the Mayor is authorized to sign any necessary documents for same on behalf of the City, subject to favorable review by the City Solicitor.”

In a request for City Council Action on February 28th, the Newport Fire Department had recommended that the City Council award the contract to build a “new Fire/Rescue/CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive) Boat as part of its 2016 Port Security Grant Program endowment to Moose Boats, Inc of Vallejo, CA for the sum of $887,642.00 utilizing the US General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule 84 as permissible per Council Resolution 2016-107”.

On April 13, 2015, Newport City Council had approved $267,500 to replace Newport Fire Department’s current rescue boat in 2017 through the Vehicle Replacement Plan, in the 2017 Operating Budget.  Shortly after that (on April 23, 2016) the Newport Fire Department applied to the 2016 Port Security Grant Program to obtain a Fire & Rescue Boat which “would greatly increase its operational capabilities and enhance the safety of the residents of Newport and it’s visitors in and around the waters bordering the community”, according to the resolution

FEMA has sanctioned the requested budget of $964,500 for the Fire & Rescue Boat, the City of Newport will be responsible for 25% of that total, approximately $241,125.

Local philanthropist Peter Kiernan III also stepped up and pledged $200,000 to offset the City Of Newport’s share of the cost in the acquisition of the new fire boat.

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 back on August 24th.

The vote was 5-2 with Ward 3 Councilor Kate Leonard and Councilor-At-Large Justin McLaughin voting against the resolution. The vote followed 43 minutes of discussion from Newport City Council and testimony from 3 residents, among those to speak were Ryan Miller, Chairman of the Waterfront Commission, and Matt Gineo, Owner of Oldport Marine.

With approval of the resolution, the City Council, on behalf of the Newport Fire Department, accepted the 2016 PSGP award for the procurement of a new Fire & Rescue Boat and the Mayor was then given authorization to sign any necessary documents for the same on  behalf of the City, subject to favorable review by the City Solicitor.

What’s Happened Since August

Newport Fire Department Cheif Connerton shared the following background and findings in his request for City Council Action in March. (This has been edited for length)

On September 1, 2016 the Newport Fire Department received formal notification of the grant approveal and on October 12, 2016, as sanctioned, the NFD formally accepted the 2016 PSGP endowment in the Non-Disaster Grants Portal.

In late November and early December of 2016, the Newport Fire Department held meetings with the Harbor Master and members of the Waterfront Commission & Maritime Community to explain/review the project and the proposed acquisition of the Fire/Rescue/CBRNE vessel from Mosse Boats, Inc. Discussions were held regarding various potential manufacturers in comparison to Moose Boats, Inc. and the capabilities they offered. An important factor was the ability of a builder to demonstrate a proven track record manufacturing vessels of this nature. As a result of these meetings, the group consensus was that they supported the plan and the procurement of the craft from Moose Boats, Inc.

Those in the group include Ann Souder, Hank Kniskern, Ryan Miller, Tim Mills and David Kane.

Throught the latter part of December 2016 and the entire month of January 2017, NFD staff worked to further refine the design and equipment to be included in order to reduce costs and maximize the funds from the award. As a result the NFD was able to significantly decrease charges from the original draft proposal. These excess funds will enable the City, with the approval of FEMA/DHS, to assign monies to other portions of the project.

At a regularly scheduled meeting in March, Newport City Council is accepted to vote on a resolution on behalf of Newport Fire Department that accepts the proposal from Moose Boats to construct a Fire & Rescue Boat with CBRNE capabilities for the sum of $887,642,00.

With the previous information made available where the City Of Newport would be responsible for 25% of the total (now $221,910.50), it would appear that the City would only be responsible for just $21,910.50 after using Kiernan’s $200,000 donation.

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Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

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