A fireboat pipeline, running from Lake Erie and the Buffalo and Niagara rivers into the
downtown Buffalo area, was created, enabling the fireboats to serve as floating pumping stations.
When a major alarm sounded, a fireboat would respond, hook to a high-pressure inlet
and begin pumping. From this main, powerful streams of water could be unleashed upon a fire.
The tremendous success of the pipelines far exceeded expectations and more
pipelines were added to the system. Buffalo's two fireboats, the George R. Potter
(built in 1887) and the John M. Hutchinson (built in 1893) were soon overtaxed and
the need for a new fireboat became apparent.
Bids were taken and the Crescent Shipbuilding Co. of Elizabeth, N. J. was chosen to
build Buffalo's new fireboat.