San Francisco Fire Department (CA) (Images of America)
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In San Francisco, history is as close as the sound of the fire engines and trucks racing by, sirens wailing. The San Francisco Fire Department took shape, as did the city, from the ashes and embers of the Great Fire of 1906. In the tumultuous seaport full of those seeking California's newly found gold, volunteer fire companies had to adapt to a teeming city full of canvas tents, wood shacks, kerosene lanterns, ocean breezes, and hilly winding streets. From a force that initially pulled hand-operated pumps and competed to be the first at a fire, traveling in horse-drawn equipment, the department has grown from a volunteer contingent of a few hundred to a company 1,800 strong and equipped to protect a city of 49 square miles, surrounded on three sides by salt water. The historic photographs of this volume document the establishment of the volunteer department on Christmas Eve 1849 and the inception of the paid force in 1866, as well as such colorful characters as Lily Hitchcock Coit, a belle who battled many a blaze with the volunteers and a portion of whose estate went to build the 210-foot Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. Striking images, many never before published, illustrate how the fire department was affected not only by the well-known inferno of 1906 but by the six blazes that leveled the waterfront in the 1850s and a number of other fires throughout the city's history.
islander Joseph Morris said that Indians were responsible for the fires. The Indians also admitted to setting a fire at the island dock to prevent the Coast Guard from making a landing. Today the island is a national park and a national historic landmark. In September 2003, the prison’s 1934 Diamond T fire truck returned fully restored to Alcatraz, after it left in 1970 on a barge in disrepair. (Courtesy Darrell Duncan and San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.) A fire
firefighters walk past a building destroyed by the 1989 earthquake. When they reported to the Marina district on the night of the earthquake, they quickly learned that all the water lines in a 40-square-block area surrounding the fire were broken and useless. But Division Fire Chief Harry Brophy called for the Phoenix fireboat and the department’s Portable Water Supply System (PWSS) invented by SFFD’s Assistant Chief Frank Blackburn in 1984. Within an hour of being set up, the fire was under
called the Lefty O’Doul Bridge, is adjacent to the San Francisco Giants’ Pac Bell Park. (Courtesy San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.) In this November 1933 scene, fireman John Regan transports fellow fireman Herbert Cabeceira in a famous “shirt carry,” which was used to rescue individuals from the upper stories of burning buildings. (Courtesy San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.) Sculptor Haig Patigian is pictured with the bronze statue he created
upper floors of buildings engulfed in flames. The ladder could be stretched in telescopic fashion to the desired height and also revolved a complete 360 degrees. Before these aerial trucks, a 65-foot aerial ladder was used by the SFFD for rescue operations. (Courtesy San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.) In October 1940, fireman John Flanagan attempted to shut off a broken water hydrant on Minna Street with a “T” wrench. The extreme force of this geyser-like spray had
Golden Gate Bridge. Nearly 2,000 people have jumped from this span since the bridge opened in 1937. Interestingly, most jump toward the city on the east side and not towards the open ocean on the west side of the span. (Courtesy San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.) Pictured here is the Central Fire Alarm Station at Jefferson Square in late December 1941, just weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mayor Angelo Rossie asked that the building be guarded by federal troops,