Originally designed as a City of Chicago Fireboat, the Fred A. Busse was built in Bay City, Michigan in 1936. The boat was named for the 39th Mayor of Chicago, who served as Mayor from 1907 until 1911. It was placed into service with the Chicago Fire Department May 4, 1937, and at the time it was built, it was the largest diesel powered Fireboat, in the world. It was built specifically for Chicago, to fit underneath the cities bridges, minimizing response times for emergencies and helping to ease the congestion in a booming city.
With 4 water pumps onboard, the boat was rated for a combined 10,000 gallons per minute and could spray water up to 27 stories high. The boat served valiantly and responded to countless emergencies, before finally retiring from the Fire Department in 1981.
After being taken out of service she was sold and began the process of conversion into a tour boat. The Busse operated in Chicago for some time, then was sold again and relocated to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin where she conducted tours until April of 2019.
She was then purchased by Navy veterans Ray Novak and Erich Totsch Together they started 'Chicago Fireboat Tours' , So now the 100% veteran-owned former fireboat serves as their flagship on Lake Michigan's picturesque Chicago lakefront where they conduct historical tours on the lake and Chicago River, lakefront Cruises, and private events for up to 127 people. The interior of the fireboat is a miniature museum of sorts with pictures of the boats time in action, and antique firefighting equipment on display.