A fireboat is a watercraft which is designed to be used in firefighting. Fireboats can deal with fires on board ships and near shore, and they can perform other tasks such as water rescue operations and rapid response to the release of pollutants into the ocean. Most major ports have a fleet of fireboats which handles firefighting needs on the water.
Like other types of firefighting apparatus, a fireboat is equipped with pumps, hoses, and nozzles which can be used to deliver water to the site of a fire. One of the major advantages of a fireboat is that it has an endless supply of water immediately to hand, and does not need to be connected to a tanker or a fire hydrant. Their pumps are capable of pushing out a significant volume of water, and they can usually shoot water high into the air to reach up a ship's hull or to completely cover a warehouse or similar facility on shore. Most fireboats are equipped with multiple hoses which can provide coverage in all directions.
Fires in ports are often handled by fireboats, and fireboats can also assist on-shore firefighters. When a city's water supplies become compromised, for example, a fireboat may be called upon to pump water to help firefighters cope with a fire. Some fireboats are also equipped with icebreaking capabilities and they can assist in clearing waterways in the winter in addition to responding to fires. Fireboats may also have facilities for emergency responders like doctors and paramedics, and they can be used to transport personnel to the site of an emergency or to assist with evacuations.
Civilians often see fireboats at events held in port cities. Fireboats may ceremonially escort visiting ships and fleets into harbor, often with their pumping skills on full display, and they can also participate in ceremonial processions of fleets and ships. Some fire crews also periodically exhibit their fireboats and other aquatic rescue and emergency response equipment as part of their community outreach programs, and they may even offer civilians tours of fireboats so that people can see what it's like to work on a fireboat.
The budget for fireboats and crews is usually part of a city or port's fire department. Some shipyards also retain a fleet of fireboats and first responders to supplement the emergency crews provided by government officials. As with other emergency responders, fireboats will respond to all emergencies in which their assistance is required.