San Francisco welcomes new fireboat on Loma Prieta anniversary

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Fireboats, one of the tools that proved so vital to saving lives and homes in the Loma Prieta earthquake, was almost eliminated prior to that quake.

It was 27 years ago today when the Bay Area endured its biggest earthquake since 1906.

The Loma Prieta earthquake had a magnitude of 6.9. It killed 63 people and caused more than $7 billion in damage.

One of the tools that proved so vital to saving lives and homes had almost been eliminated prior to that quake.

PHOTOS: The Loma Prieta earthquake

"When I was mayor, the fireboat was looked at as a useless appendage to the fire department and there was a lot of pressure on me to zero it out," explained Senator Dianne Feinstein.

But Feinstein refused and wound up on the right side of history.

A fire tore through San Francisco's Marina District after the deadly Loma Prieta earthquake. Feinstein had just finished her last term as mayor.

WATCH VIDEO: ABC7 News Coverage from 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

"I went down to the Marina and I saw the fireboat come in. I saw the portable hydrant being rolled out. I was told all the water mains were out," she said.

With help from neighbors, firefighters saved countless homes that day using the boat to pump water straight form the Bay.

Now, instead of retiring the fireboat, the city used federal grant money to build a brand new one.

"This new fireboat is more than just a piece of equipment. It's about our city's resilience," explained Mayor Ed Lee.

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The new boat will be named the St. Francis, named by 8-year-old Nico Rivera, who was one of over 300 students who submitted names for the new boat.

"It felt like I was like being mayor for five seconds," joked Rivera.

The city's other two fireboats, Phoenix and Guardian, were also named by kids.

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earthquakeloma prieta earthquakeprepare norcalsafetyemergency drilldisasterfirefirefightersdianne feinsteined leeOaklandSanta CruzSan FranciscoSan Mateo
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