Presidio Fire Department faces further service cuts

A Board of Supervisors committee will explore the impact of service cuts at the historic Presidio Fire Department today after federal officials revealed that the Presidio would rely on The City in case of a large fire.

The Government Audit and Oversight Committee hearing was called by Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier to examine the costs of assisting the Presidio fire station and whether the move will affect coverage in surrounding neighborhoods, such as Pacific Heights and the Marina.

At least seven positions have been cut from the Presidio Fire Department’s budget, which is funded primarily by the Presidio Trust and a 25 percent contribution from the National Park Service.

The 65-foot aerial ladder truck based at Presidio Station 1 was taken out of commission in April because there were no longer enough firefighters to operate it. The Presidio fire station still operates a fire engine and an ambulance.

In an e-mail written to Golden Gate National Recreational Area employees, park Superintendent Brian O’Neill said Presidio firefighters would rely on the park’s mutual aid agreement with the San Francisco Fire Department when a ladder truck or further assistance is needed.

“Given the park’s limited funds, and in order to best address concerns for personnel safety, we believe these changes provide the best approach for the interim,” the e-mail said.

In a letter to O’Neill and several local and national leaders, International Association of Fire Fighters President Harold Schaitberger threatened legal action because “the present level of staffing of firefighters could be inadequate to conduct emergency scene operations.”

The Presidio Fire Department was created in 1917 after a Presidio fire killed four members of Gen. John Pershing’s family.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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