Negotiations between The City and the federal government for the Fire Department to take over the duty of dousing fires in the Presidio have all but ended, with the Board of Supervisors expected to approve the changes in a matter of weeks.
The Fire Commission has already approved the contract. The City will recoup $756,875 in expenses from the National Park Service in the first year with costs increasing each year.
The biggest fallout, however, is all about jobs. Of the 29 firefighters who worked in the Presidio, the Fire Department this week only sent out letters to 15 saying they have a shot at making it as a San Francisco firefighter.
Despite a resolution by Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier that would approve of the hiring of those Presidio firefighters, there will be at least 14 employees who will lose their jobs.
UPDATE: Alioto-Pier’s office called to say that just because the The City didn’t offer jobs to all of the federal fire employees, that doesn’t mean the remaining employees will be out of jobs. Many are applying for other jobs at the federal level.
Al Duncan, president of the Presidio Professional Firefighters, confirmed that several Presidio employees have been “scrambling” to train for other positions, but they face an uphill battle because the Presidio Fire Department is the only full service fire station under federal control. He also said that there are actually 32 employees at the station, so there are 17 firefighters and emergency medical technicians with uncertain futures.
“It’s been a living hell for these employees,” Duncan said. “They’ve been on the hook for more than two years and I don’t think many people realize how that’s affected them.”
And another tidbit: Once The City takes over the Presidio Fire Department, they plan on calling it Station 51.
UPDATE #2: San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Mindy Talmadge points out that The City is actually saving jobs by hiring firefighters from the Presidio. Another possible outcome could have meant that the station was put into the hands of a private company.
“If another entity had taken over firefighting and emergency medical services in the Presidio, the potential for all of the employees to lose their jobs would have been very high,” Talmadge wrote in an e-mail. “We feel very good about being able to offer jobs to approximately half of the Firefighters/Paramedics that, prior to reaching an agreement with the San Francisco Fire Department, were expecting to be unemployed.”