Alfred E. Ronaldson (fireboat)

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The Alfred E. Ronaldson was a fireboat operated briefly by the Fire Department of New York City in 1994.[1] The boat was named after a firefighter who lost his life in the line of duty.[2][1][3]

The Alfred E. Ronaldson, and her sister ship, the John P. Devaney, were experimental "surface effect ship" designs, a design related to hovercrafts.[1] The vessels had a pair of catamaran hulls. A rubber skirt between the two hulls could be inflated by powerful fans, and this enabled her to travel at over 30 knots. The vessels' fibreglass hulls were shipped from Europe. They came equipped with a high-tech sensor suite.

The vessels were expensive, costing $3.5 million each. But after they were commissioned in June 1992 they only had an operational service span of five months, being withdrawn in November 1992 as their maintenance was too complicated.[1]


Alfred E. Ronaldson had been a firefighter with the FDNY for 13 years, and had received 6 citations.[2] He grew up and lived in Montgomery, New York, a municipality near New York City, and was a volunteer firefighter in its fire department. He died fighting a fire in Orange County, while fighting a fire with Montgomery's Fire Department. His crew had responded to a fire at a school that was undergoing renovation. Unknown to Ronaldson and his comrades a massive slab of concrete was only being held up by wooden supports, during the renovation. He was injured when that slab fell, when its supports burned through.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Brian J. Cudahy. Around Manhattan Island, Fordham University Press, 1997, pp. 112–114. Retrieved on 2015-06-29.
  2. 2.0 2.1 George James. Often a Hero, a Firefighter Dies on the Job, The New York Times, 1991-03-06, p. B1. Retrieved on 2020-02-08. “Mr. Ronaldson, the 36-year-old son of a retired fire captain and the father of five children, was the first firefighter to die in the line of duty in two years.”
  3. New York FDNY Historic Fireboats.