Compartment Corner: Ship Bottom (NJ) Fire Department Engine 46


By Mike Ciampo

Located in Ocean County, New Jersey, on Long Beach Island, is the town of Ship Bottom. The town is often referred to as the “Gateway to LBI” because of the causeway bridge that crosses Barnegat Bay and connects the mainland to the island. The population of Ship Bottom soars from roughly 2,000 year-round residents to about 20,000 people during the summer vacation months. The town got its name when a ship capsized in the fog off the shore in the early 1800s. A captain from another ship had rowboats approach the schooner and they heard banging on the hull. They used an ax to cut open the hull to remove a female passenger. Legend has it that when she reached land she drew a cross in the sand as a thank you because there was a language barrier. The place of the shipwreck and rescue has been known as Ship Bottom ever since and the ship is the centerpiece of the department’s patch (photo 1).

Unfortunately, the fire department has recently faced a shipwreck of its own. The company’s apparatus, tools, equipment, and firehouse were all damaged during Super Storm Sandy, and efforts to rebuild have been ongoing. Recently the fire department accepted a pumper built on a Rosenbauer RBM Commander cab and chassis. It is equipped with a 750-gallon water tank, a Hale Qmax side-mount fire pump, Cummins engine, and Allison automatic transmission. It is painted in an all-white design with a reflective blue stripe running from the cab and through the roll-up compartment doors to the rear of the apparatus. It has an overhead ladder storage rack and is labeled as Engine 46 Note that it is also labeled 4611 to coincide with the county-wide radio designation sequence: the first and second digit is the station number, the third digit is the unit number assigned by the individual department, and the last digit is the county apparatus identifier.

The apparatus’s right rear side compartment is a tool and equipment storage compartment. It is equipped with three large vertical roll out shelving units. (photo 2 and photo 3) Each vertical shelf runs in a track and has a hydraulic piston controlling arm (mounted towards the top of the shelf) that prevents it from rolling out of or into the compartment to fast. There are “open cut-out” handles in each shelf, allowing a firefighter wearing a glove easy access to open or close the shelf. There are vertical reflective safety stripe stickers on each side of each shelf, for more visibility during operations in limited lighting. Each shelf and the rear wall of the compartment have equipment mounted to them. They have a multitude of PAC mounting brackets and, with the design of the shelves, they can be easily relocated or moved to allow other tools and equipment to be mounted. The compartments also have an orange tubular webbing cord closure which allows the roll down door to be shut when it’s pulled down on. The Ship Bottom Fire Department is still recovering from the storm and is in the process of acquiring more tools and equipment, which will be added to this compartment.

Mounted on the rear wall of the compartment are two fiberglass broom heads and handles that are often used to sweep up after auto accidents. On the rear side of the rear vertical pull-out shelf are two flat head shovels (photo 4), and on the front side of this shelf there is a 52-inch halligan tool and fiberglass-handled flat head axe. (photo 5) The middle vertical pull-out shelf’s rear side has a TNT tool and a sledgehammer with fiberglass handle mounted on it. (photo 6) On the forward-facing side of this shelf there is another 52-inch halligan tool and fiberglass-handled flat head axe. (photo 7) On the front vertical pull-out shelf there is a Little Giant portable ladder mounted. (photo 8) At the present time, nothing is mounted to the back side of this vertical shelf. All the tools and equipment in each compartment are marked with a reflective sticker with the Ship Bottom Fire Department’s identification.

MIKE CIAMPO is a 29-year veteran of the fire service and a lieutenant in the Fire Department of New York. Previously, he served with the District of Columbia Fire Department. He has a B.A. in fire science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. He is the lead instructor for the FDIC Truck Essentials H.O.T. program. He wrote the Ladder chapter and co-authored the Ventilation chapter for Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II (Fire Engineering, 2009) and is featured in “Training Minutes” truck company videos on He also wrote the Ground Ladders-Bread & Butter DVD (Pennwell) and writes the monthly column ON FIRE on the back page of Fire Engineering.

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