Nancy Pelosi and four generations of D’Alesandros celebrate preservation of the ‘Tommy’ fireboat

Nearly seven decades after a teenage Nancy Pelosi stood alongside her powerful parents on what was then a new state-of-the-art fireboat in Baltimore, she grinned as she celebrated a new chapter for the vessel named for her father, former Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro Jr.

“It’s emotional for us. It’s a source of great pride for us,” the U.S. House Speaker said Monday in Lutherville, surrounded by four more generations of the D’Alesandro family as they celebrated the preservation of the boat known as the “Tommy” at the Fire Museum of Maryland.


“It is all a recognition of what our men and women in the fire departments across our country do to protect us,” Pelosi said. “So if there’s any purpose in this, including honoring my father, of course, but a larger picture that he would want us all to do, is to always be true to the men and women in blue.”

The boat, decommissioned in 2015, had been left to deteriorate at Sparrows Point until Pelosi and others donated to restore and preserve it, museum director Steve Heaver said.


Now sitting flush against the outside of the museum, it arrived last month after being cut down from its original 103 feet to 38 feet but still equipped with three bright red water cannons, the pilot house and original touches like the mahogany woodwork around its brass windows.

A paint job, the relocation and some other completed restorations have been part of the roughly $200,000 project already, with about $75,000 worth of work left to do, Heaver said.

Future plans include building direct access between the museum building and the boat, creating an exhibit inside and possibly even recreating the effect of the water canons by running smaller pipes in them.

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“Without [Pelosi’s] efforts and the support of her family, this boat would not be sitting here, and I venture to say it would probably be tin cans or razor blades by now,” Heaver said.

Joining Pelosi and her extended family were former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former state District Court Judge Katie Curran O’Malley, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.

They spoke against the backdrop of the Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. and photos from its dedication in September 1956.

Pelosi, who was 16 at the time, said she thought she had been the one to christen the boat. But looking at a picture of her mother breaking the bottle on the hull, she laughed as she said she may have just “touched the bottle or something.”

“This one was named appropriately,” Ruppersberger said. “A 103-foot-long propelled by a 1,300 horsepower diesel engine, this boat was made to grind just like Tommy Jr.”


Ruppersberger said Thomas D’Alesandro III, Pelosi’s brother who also became mayor, was a personal mentor. Van Hollen said his father, a Baltimore native, helped campaign for the elder D’Alesandro.

“This ‘Tommy’ spent decades serving and protecting the people of Baltimore City, just like its namesake,” Van Hollen said.