San Francisco floating fire department to be towed into place

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ByAmy Hollyfield KGO logo
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
SF floating fire department to be towed into place
San Francisco newest fire station will be floating in the bay, it was towed into place Thursday December 3, 2020.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco officials are preparing for a major undertaking that will happen in the overnight hours Wednesday into Thursday: towing and pushing the city's new fire station from Treasure Island to Pier 221/2. They chose that timing because of the tides.

"It's not going to take that long, we're expecting the tow to take about an hour to an hour and a half. You know this boat, or the barge, originally started in Shanghai, China. That's where the foundation was built and filled, because the steel foundation was built in Shanghai, China, it was floated across the Pacific. Then it went to Pier One at Treasure Island, where there was a space to build it," said Rachel Gordon, the spokesperson for the Department of Public Works.

The barge fire station will replace the 105-year-old building that currently serves as the waterfront fire station. It is too small and old to continue serving as the station but it is historical and will not be torn down. They decided to park the station out on the water and not build it on land so it can handle the effects of global warming.

"What's really exciting about it is, it's going to be able to go up and down with the tides. So we know that, if there's going to be sea level rise, we are expecting that it will be resilient for that. So it'll go up and down, whether it's King tides, or sea level rise, the fire station will be able to float with the bay," Gordon said.

They also expect it to withstand earthquakes.

Fire officials say the department is excited about the advantages the new station will bring.

"We're going to be looking forward to going into something that's new and innovative and not only ergonomic but economic for our community. It is going to be able to serve multiple needs for decades, if not centuries to come. Looking at the dynamics of a floating fire station that's going to be able to move with the tides and move with our abilities, during a major disaster, such as we saw in 1906 and 1989 is really going to help us be a trendsetter, but also be proactive in our approach," said Lt. Jonathan Baxter with the fire department.

Baxter says 50 firefighters have applied for the two opening spots at the new station.

"There's multiple advantages that are coming in with the station. One of the biggest is our ability to care for mass casualty patients, right here at the actual station. If we have a major incident on the water, we have to transport our patients to different locations throughout the Embarcadero. Now we'll be able to bring ambulances right here, and load victims quickly on ambulances and get them to our amazing trauma center and our amazing hospitals in San Francisco, to give those victims the care that they need. In addition to that, we're going to have room for our rescue boat. Currently we have rescue boats that are at the St. Francis Yacht Club, which is near the Golden Gate Bridge. This will allow us to have another rescue boat station here to respond quicker to bay rescues or emergencies on the scene and around the water," Baxter explained.

The barge will be in place by Thursday morning but there is still a lot of work to be done before firefighters can move in.

"There are going to be four piles that are going to driven into the bedrock, 150 feet down into the bay-- so it goes through the bay mud into the bedrock. And then there are going to be steel collars put around the piles and then attached to the barge. So, it's still an engineering operation. If you hang around the engineers at all, they're really excited about this one. This is something, I don't want to say it's the only one in the world- there might be one somewhere- but it's very unusual. This is really an opportunity to showcase what we can do in San Francisco to keep the city safe," Gordon said.

The station is expected to open sometime next Spring.