If you have spent any time walking around San Francisco, you have seen the “big red shiny Mack fire engine” and its exuberant co-pilots, Robert and Marilyn Katzman.
The Katzmans operate San Francisco Fire Engine Tours and Adventures, using a faithfully restored 1896 firehouse as their home base. Now, with the Katzmans edging cautiously toward a Hawaiian retirement, the firehouse is for sale.
The home of SFFD Engine Company No. 33 is located in San Francisco’s Ocean View district and was in operation until 1974. Robert and Marilyn bought the then-dilapidated firehouse at a city auction in 1977 and set about restoring it, becoming avid collectors of firefighter memorabilia along the way.
“They restored it very authentically,” says Jack McCloskey of Time Realty, a longtime friend of the couple and now the listing agent for their property. “They still have the lockers in the dormitory.”
In 1998, after storing a friend’s vintage fire engine at their home, the Katzmans came upon the idea to lead San Francisco tours from the open-air bed of a 1955Mack fire engine.
Since then, the Katzmans and their firehouse home have been featured on HGTV’s “The Good Life,” the Travel Channel, the Discovery Channel, KPIX’s Evening Magazine and many programs outside the U.S.
The plan now is to continue running the business until the firehouse is sold. At that time, the Katzmans will move to the property they own in Hawaii.
“They won’t admit to retiring, but that’s what’s happening,” McCloskey says.
When that happens, San Francisco will lose two of its newer icons. After all, who besides Marilyn Katzman, a “lifelong hoofer,” has tap-danced on top of the Golden Gate Bridge’s South Tower?
For sale is not just a firehouse but also a “big red shiny Mack fire engine,” as the Katzmans’ song goes, and a thriving business.
“It’s going to take someone unique,” McCloskey says. “Someone to say, ‘this is a good business.’”
WHERE: San Francisco
ASKING PRICE: $3,300,000
PROPERTY TAX: $42,900*
THE PROPERTY: Completely restored and intact 1896 Victorian firehouse with 2 bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms, plus successful tour business.
NOTABLE: Has been functioning as home base for San Francisco Fire Engine tours; price includes fixtures, furniture, equipment, 1955 Mack fire engine and tour
AGENT: John McCloskey, Time Realty, (650) 992-9139.
* Estimate based on 1.3% of asking price.
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