Our Daily Lives

Crew of Retired Fireboat Answers Sept. 11 Call

Friday, September 11, 2009

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the retired fireboat John J. Harvey was called back into service to fight blazes and aid survivors. Jessica DuLong, the boat's engineer and a freelance journalist, recounts this time in "My River Chronicles."

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Work Will Last Months

No one knows yet that firefighters will work for months to extinguish the last fires, or that ironworkers cutting away at the pile will pull up sections of steel beam, only to watch the nearly molten ends flare up when exposed to a fresh burst of air.

As we swing around the tip of Manhattan, the caustic smell grows stronger and more bitter, the distinctive acrid mix of ash, heat, concrete, steel and death.

Just south of North Cove, I spot the unpolished bronze nozzles of the John J. Harvey's deck guns and a wave of love consumes me.

One deck gun at the stern sends water back into the river, showing me that the pumps are operating and that the boat is actively feeding Hudson River water to the hoses on land.

For the first time I see the boat pumping water with a purpose, doing the important work for which she was built.

Excerpted from "My River Chronicles: Rediscovering America On The Hudson," by Jessica DuLong. Copyright 2009 by Jessica DuLong. Excerpted with permission by Free Press, a Division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.

Jessica DuLong, a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed Merchant Marine Officer, is one of the world's only female fireboat engineers. She's also a journalist whose work has appeared in Newsweek International, Rolling Stone, Psychology Today, CosmoGIRL!, Parenting, Today's Machining World, Maritime Reporter and Engineering News and other publications.

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Buy "My River Chronicles"
http://www.powells.com/partner/34289/s?kw=My%20River%20Chronicles

John J. Harvey Restoration Project
http://www.fireboat.org/

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