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Brandon Bartlett, left, and Gary Dolins
Two firefighters (Brandon Bartlett, left, and Gary Dolins)

During a briefing session at the end of the afternoon, I fell to talking informally with some of the firefighters. One or two were familiar with the 104-foot, all-fiberglass La Diva (formerly Ivana Trump’s Ivana) that burned at Rybovich in 2010. At one point, a guy mentioned the
yacht’s resin-based composition and resin’s tendency, when super-heated, to turn into a highly toxic, fiercely combustible, petroleum-derived fuel. He also mentioned how a wall of heat he’d encountered had actually melted and deformed the facemask of his breathing apparatus.

“So do you think it’s too extreme then—abandoning ship if there’s a bad fire and neither the fire-suppression system or extinguishers have put it out?” I asked, still wondering perhaps whether my simulator-based, cut-and-run take on marine fires was a wee-bit wimpy.

“As a professional,” replied battalion chief Gary Dolins, “my first priority’s safety—saving lives. Only after everybody’s safe and accounted for does preservation of property arise, be it house, yacht, or whatever. If you’re in the middle of the Atlantic, yeah, it’s more complicated. But at the dock, remember—we’re trained firefighters, you’re not.”

La Diva burning dockside in 2010
La Diva burning dockside in 2010.