Early Thursday morning, a first-of-its-kind floating firehouse sailed across the Bay to its new permanent home at Pier 22 1/2, and it’s part of the San Francisco Fire Department’s preparedness efforts for earthquakes and other disasters.
The new fire station, as SFist reported earlier, replaces the outdated and small Fire Station 35 on the Embarcadero, under the Bay Bridge. And in addition to being solar-powered with the ability to operate during a citywide blackout, the floating station will be home to fire boat as well as one fire engine, and several fire rescue crafts.
Department spokesperson Lt. Jonathan Baxter tells KCBS Radio that that everyone is “excited” to the station in service, and in the event of a waterside emergency, “It’s a lot easier to move a floating fire station.”
He also explained that the existing pier the SFFPD uses to board their firefighting boat, the Saint Francis, makes things awkward depending on where the tide is.
“With our current station, when we get a call, if it’s a low tide we have to use specific ladders to get down to the vessel and if it’s a high tide we have to go upwards to get on to the vessel,” Baxter tells KCBS. “So this time when we have our floating station, it’s going to be equal to the floating station at all times.”
The almost 15,000-square-foot floating fire station came over from Treasure Island, where it was being constructed, at 2 a.m. Thursday morning.
In a statement, San Francisco Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson said that disasters like the May inferno at Pier 45 highlight the need for better water-borne firefighting equipment.
“The project will provide new and upgraded infrastructure and facilities for emergency equipment and personnel that’s needed to optimize the critical work the perform as first responders,” Nicholson said.
The $39.9 million new station was funded by the second phase of the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response bond, which SF voters approved in 2014.
The existing, 105-year-old Fire Station 35, is undersized for current needs and does not meet seismic safety standards, as the Chronicle reported earlier this week. It will continue to be home to one fire engine and some equipment.
Below, photos of Station 35 in 1949 and the present, decorated for the holidays, as is tradition.