The San Francisco Fire Department will be adding a new fireboat to its fleet, giving the department three boats. (courtesy Vigor Industrial)

The San Francisco Fire Department will be adding a new fireboat to its fleet, giving the department three boats. (courtesy Vigor Industrial)

SFFD to take ownership of new fireboat after delays

San Francisco is about to have a new fireboat to help battle and spot blazes along the waterfront.

Within the next week, the San Francisco Fire Department is expected to take ownership of the $11.8 million state-of-the-art fireboat, which arrived at the fire station at Pier 22½ late last month but is still undergoing testing, according to SFFD spokesperson Jonathan Baxter.

Baxter said the biggest question remaining is what to name the new boat.

The department already has two others, called the Guardian and the Phoenix, which were built in the 1950s and are the floating equivalent of fire engines (The boats can pump millions of gallons of water into The City’s backup water systems, which helped save parts of the Marina district from flames following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake).

“The chief, the fire commissioners and members on the boat committee have the list of names that have been given to us by various schools throughout [San Francisco],” Baxter said. The fire department asked private and public school students to chime in with ideas for the new name by the end of May.

The 88-foot-long fireboat is slightly larger than its counterparts. It was built by Vigor Industrial and designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants in Seattle.

The boat arrived in San Francisco on July 24 after departing from Seattle on a more than three-day journey, Rene Doiron, project manager for Vigor, said in an email.

The fire department uses the vessels to extinguish blazes just off the San Francisco Bay — where new developments are springing up like in Mission Bay — as well as to spot fires and pump water from the endless supply offshore.

“The vessel is designed not only for firefighting, but also for pumping — essentially becoming a mobile pumping [station] for city water should The City’s firemain be compromised,” Doiron said.

Last month, firefighters used one of the boats to fight a brush fire at Candlestick Point, Baxter said.

The department paid for the new boat mostly with a port security grant alongside $400,000 from the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative, the San Francisco Examiner previously reported. Construction was delayed several times and was most recently slated for completion in April or later.

“Everything is set in stone based on the bid, so we didn’t have any added or incurred costs that I know of as a result of [the delays],” Baxter said.

The department is still debating whether to keep all three boats.

With Pier 26 under renovation including a new dock, space is not a concern, but maintenance costs of about $300,000 are.

The SFFD plans to publicly unveil the new boat with a ceremony tentatively set for Oct. 17, or during Fleet Week earlier that month, Baxter said.Bay Area NewsfireboatJonathan BaxterSFFD

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