San Francisco Fire Department

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San Francisco Fire Department
San Francisco Fire Department Seal.png
Operational area
Country United States
State California
City San Francisco
Agency overview[1]
Established12/25/1849-Volunteer Department 03/02/1866-Paid Department
Annual calls135,091 (2015)
Employees1,449 (2012)
Annual budget$326,072,813 (2012)
Fire chiefJeanine Nicholson
EMS levelALS & BLS
Facilities and equipment[2]
Stations44 (Plus 3 at SFO)
Ambulances16 ALS
Airport crash4
Wildland4 - Mini-Pumpers
Official website
IAFF website

The San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) provides firefighting, rescue and emergency medical services to the City and County of San Francisco, California.


Volunteer Department: 1849-1866

The first great fire in San Francisco originated on Christmas Eve, 1849. By the time it burned itself out; fifty buildings were gone at a loss of $1,500,000. On Christmas night several citizens who had been firemen in the East met and formed fire companies. Heading the group was Frederick D. Kohler who was chosen as the first Chief. The Town Council held a special called meeting that afternoon and passed a resolution to organize a fire department[3][4]. The resolution states, in part, “Therefore… protect the town against another such calamity by organizing fire companies”, and the San Francisco Fire Department was born. Town Council met on January 28, 1850 and formally elected Kohler as the first Chief Engineer of the San Francisco Fire Department.

Paid Department: 1866–Present

The legal basis for the origin of the Paid Department stemmed from legislation titled, "An Act to Establish a Paid Fire Department for the City and County of San Francisco."  (Approval by the State Legislature was granted on March 2, 1866.)  The Act provided for a five man Board of Fire Commissioners to manage the affairs of the Department. The Fire Department consisted of a Chief Engineer, two Assistant Chiefs, one Corporation Yard Keeper and six steam fire engine companies.  Each engine company was to have one foreman, one engineer, one driver, one fireman, and eight extra or "call" men.  There were two Hook-and-Ladder Companies each consisting of one foreman, one driver, one tillerman and twelve extra men.  Additionally, there were three Hose Companies, each consisting of one foreman, one driver, one steward and six extra men. During April 1866, the Board of Supervisors purchased four steam fire engines and one hose reel from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company of Manchester, New Hampshire.  This purchase was made at a cost of $17,655.  In July of the same year the Supervisors also bought twenty-seven horses to provide motive power for the new and heavier equipment. One of the first acts of the new Board of Fire Commissioners was to appoint the Department executive officers.  On October 6, 1866 Franklin E. R. Whitney was appointed Chief Engineer; H.W. Burckes, First Assistant Chief; and Charles H. Ackerson, Second Assistant Chief. The Department went into active operation on December 3, 1866, making it the first paid Fire Department West of the Mississippi.  Daniel Hayes, was appointed Superintendent of Steamers, Tom Sawyer, Corporation Yard Keeper, and John L. Durkee, Fire Marshal

In 1906, the department was considered on a par with those of the larger cities on the East Coast, but found itself reduced to fighting the fire of 1906 in the quake aftermath with axes and shovels, as most of the city's water mains were broken and cisterns drained. Fire Chief Dennis T. Sullivan suffered mortal wounds in his home by a falling chimney early in the disaster and subsequently died in the hospital.

In 1955, Earl Gage Jr. was hired as the first Black firefighter. His work as director of community services is credited with diversifying the department.[5]



The Phoenix docked at Pier 22+12.

The SFFD has three fireboats that are docked at Pier 22+12. Fireboat 1, the Phoenix, was constructed in 1954 and is fitted with three deck monitors, a water town and two under pier monitors.[6] Fireboat 2, the Guardian, was constructed in 1950 and is the oldest fireboat in the fleet.[7] Both boats are 89-foot (27 m) and outfitted with two 500 horsepower (370 kW) engines giving them top speeds of 12.5 knots (14.4 mph; 23.2 km/h) (Guardian) and 15 knots (17 mph; 28 km/h) (Phoenix). A third new 85-foot fireboat (Fireboat 3) was christened the St. Francis in October 2016.[8][9][10]

Fire Stations and Apparatus[edit]

Fireboat Guardian stands on alert status near the Bay Bridge.
SFFD Truck 3 operating at a fire in the Tenderloin.
The former Fire Station # 1, located on Howard Street
SFFD Engine 16, quartered in the Marina District
Two SFFD truck companies at the scene of a 4th-alarm fire on 41st Ave. in the Sunset District

Below is a full listing of all fire station and company locations in the City & County of San Francisco according to Battalion and Division.[11]As of 2019, SFFD has purchased several Ferrara Engines and Two New Ferrara Tillers. One Tiller is getting assigned to Truck 13 and the other tiller is still unknown

There are also three SFFD-operated fire stations located at the San Francisco International Airport in San Mateo County.

Fire Station Neighborhood Engine Company Truck Company Special Unit Battalion Chief Vehicle, Division Chief Vehicle, Rescue Captain Vehicle, EMS Chief Vehicle or EMS Operations Chief vehicle Battalion Division
1 South of Market Engine 1 Truck 1 Rescue Squad 1 2 3
2 Chinatown Engine 2 Truck 2 Battalion Chief 1 1 2
3 Tenderloin Engine 3 Truck 3 4 3
4 Mission Bay Engine 4 Truck 4 3 3
5 Fillmore District Engine 5 Truck 5 Light Rescue 5 Division Chief 2 5 2
6 Castro Engine 6 Truck 6 Decontamination Unit 1 2 3
7 Mission District Engine 7 Truck 7 Rescue Squad 2, Light Rescue 7 Division Chief 3 6 3
8 South Beach Engine 8 Truck 8 Battalion Chief 3 3 3
9 Dog Patch Engine 9 Truck 9 Battalion Chief 10 10 3
10 Presidio Heights Engine 10 Truck 10 CBRNE 1 5 2
11 Noe Valley Engine 11 Truck 11 Battalion Chief 6, Rescue Captain 3 6 3
12 Haight-Ashbury Engine 12 Truck 12 5 2
13 Financial District Engine 13 Truck 13 CO2 Unit 1, Mobile Command 1 Rescue Captain 1 1 2
14 Outer Richmond Engine 14 Truck 14 Cliff Rescue 14 7 2
15 Ingleside Engine 15 Truck 15 Battalion Chief 9 9 3
16 Marina District, Marina Green
Fort Mason
Engine 16 Truck 16 Rescue Boat 1, Rescue Water Craft 1, Rescue Water Craft 2 (Kept at San Francisco Marina Craft Harbor) 4 2
17 Bayview-Hunters Point Engine 17 Truck 17 Portable Hydrant Tender 17 10 3
18 Outer Parkside Engine 18 Truck 18 Surf Rescue 18 8 2
19 Stonestown Galleria
Fort Funston
Engine 19 Truck 19 Cliff Rescue 19

Haz-Mat. Assist Trailer

9 2
20 Laguna Honda Reservoir Engine 20 Mobile Air Unit 1, Mobile Air Unit 2, Pollution Control Unit, Mobile Air Support Trailer 1 8 2
21 Panhandle Engine 21 Attack Hose Tender 21, Utility Unit 1 Battalion Chief 5 5 3
22 Sunset District Engine 22 Portable Hydrant Tender 22 7 2
23 Outer Sunset District Engine 23 8 2
24 Eureka Valley Engine 24 6 3
25 Dog Patch Engine 25 Mini-Pumper 25, Multi-Casualty Unit 1 10 3
26 Glen Park Engine 26 6 3
28 North Beach Engine 28 1 2
29 Design District Engine 29 Decontamination Unit 2 2 3
31 Inner Richmond Engine 31 Battalion Chief 7, Rescue Captain 2 7 2
32 College Hill Engine 32 Mini-Pumper 32 6 3
33 Oceanview Engine 33 9 3
34 Lands End Engine 34 Surf Rescue 34 7 2
35 Pier 22+12 Engine 35 Fireboat 1 Phoenix, Fireboat 2 Guardian, Fireboat 3 St. Francis 3 3
36 Civic Center Engine 36 Haz-Mat. 1, Haz-Mat. 2 Battalion Chief 2 2 3
37 Potrero Hill Engine 37 10 3
38 Pacific Heights Engine 38 Battalion Chief 4 4 2
39 Forest Hill Engine 39 Multi-Casualty Unit 2 9 3
40 Inner Parkside Engine 40 Battalion Chief 8 8 2
41 Nob Hill Engine 41 1 2
42 Portola Engine 42 Portable Hydrant Tender 42 10 3
43 Excelsior Engine 43 Mini-Pumper 43, OES Unit 248 Rescue Captain 4 9 3
44 Visitacion Valley Engine 44 Mini-Pumper 44 10 3
48 Treasure Island Engine 48 Truck 48 Rescue Ambulance 48, Hose Tender 48, Portable Hydrant Tender 48 3 3
49 India Basin ALS Medic Units, BioMed Unit, Arson Unit, Logistics Units, Supply Units EMS Chief, EMS Operations Chief, Rescue Captain 10 3
51 Presidio of San Francisco Engine 51 4 2

SFO Stations[edit]

All apparatus at SFO go by the 'Rescue' call sign, whether Engine, Truck, ARFF Crash, Medic Unit, or Command SUV.

Fire Station Number Location Engine (Rescue) Unit Truck (Rescue) Unit Medic (Rescue) Unit ARFF Crash (Rescue) Unit Command (Rescue) Unit Other Units
1 West End of airport Rescue 54 Rescue 47, Rescue 48 (relief) Rescue 91 Rescue 10, Rescue 88 (Relief) Rescue 67-Rescue Captain (Paramedic Supervisor) Rescue 81 (Multi-Casualty Unit)
2 Intersection of
four runways
Rescue 11, Rescue 9,Rescue 40 (Relief) Rescue 61 (Utility), Airboat 51, RHIB, Rescue 55 (40' long Firefighting/Rescue Boat)
3 South End of airport Rescue 33 Rescue 93 Rescue 12, Rescue 49 (relief), Rescue 41 (relief) Rescue 65 (Battalion Chief) Bike Medics (SFO3 SFO4)

Disbanded fire companies[edit]

Throughout the history of the San Francisco Fire Department there have been several fire companies which have been closed due to budget cuts and the restructuring of engine company numbers in 1972–1973.

  • Engine Company 27 (356 7th St.): Disbanded July 1, 1976
  • Engine Company 30 (1300 4th St.): Disbanded July 1, 1976
  • Engine Company 45 (1348 45th Ave.): Disbanded September 26, 1972
  • Engine Company 46 (441 12th Ave.): Disbanded May 16, 1972
  • Engine Company 47 (499 41st Ave.): Disbanded May 25, 1973
  • Engine Company 49 (2155 18th Ave.): Disbanded July 20, 1972
  • Truck Company 20 (285 Olympia Way): Disbanded September 30, 1980
  • Division 1 (530 Sansome St.): Disbanded January 2, 2002
  • Battalion 5 (1443 Grove St.): August 30, 2003, Reinstated January 4, 2017
  • Battalion 11 (798 Wisconsin St.): Disbanded July 1, 1970
  • Salvage Company 1 (356 7th St.): Disbanded 1980
  • Salvage Company 2 (115 Drumm St.): Disbanded 1975
  • Salvage Company 3 (441 12th Ave.): Disbanded 1977
  • Salvage Company 4 (299 Vermont St.): Disbanded 1986

In popular culture[edit]

San Francisco Fire Station 12 fire truck with Grateful Dead–inspired logo sticker
  • The SFFD was the responding fire department to a major high-rise fire disaster in the 1974 film, The Towering Inferno. The film cast many actual firefighters from the department and used SFFD fire trucks during the filming. Fire Station 38 was also shown. The exterior shots were done at the Bank of America Building.
  • Actor Steve McQueen was given a San Francisco Fire Department Honorary Battalion Chief badge #33 with ID in recognition for his accurate portrayal of San Francisco Battalion Fire Chief Mike O'Halloran.
  • The SFFD was also used in the Dirty Harry film series, particularly Rescue Squad 2 in Dirty Harry.
  • When a veteran SFFD firefighter is killed and Adrian Monk is blinded in a mysterious attack at a firehouse in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing", Monk must rely on his other senses to solve the bizarre case. In the course of the episode, he finds that the killer came to the firehouse to steal a fireman's coat and even finds that the man who blinded him had just beforehand killed a woman a few blocks away and set fire to her house (that fire was the one the engine company had been responding to when the murder at the firehouse took place). The depicted fire station, Fire Station 53, is a fictitious station. The exterior of the station was represented by Fire Station 1 of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
  • In the Monk novel series by Lee Goldberg, Joe Cochran, Natalie Teeger's occasional lover, is an SFFD firefighter, making appearances in the novels Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse, Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants, and Mr. Monk in Outer Space.
  • The SFFD was featured in two Emergency! television movies in 1978 and 1979, where L.A. County firefighter/paramedics Gage and DeSoto run calls with the firefighters of Rescue Squad 2.
  • The NBC Television show Trauma followed the fictional lives of SFFD paramedics, EMTs and flight medics.
  • The department is featured in the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill. After San Francisco City Hall is set ablaze by the villainous Max Zorin in an attempt to kill Bond, the SFFD arrives on scene and assists Roger Moore's character in escaping the burning building and then ultimately "borrows" a SFFD ladder truck in order to outrun the police officers chasing him on the suspicion that his character set the blaze.
  • The CBS television series Rescue 911's episode #107 the 4th segment featured the San Francisco Fire Department responding to an apartment fire and in one of the scenes, sparks shoot over a firetruck from a broken wire from a powerline. The station was Station #9, built in 1915.


  1. ^ "Annual Report 2012-2013 (FY)". San Francisco Fire Derpartment. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Apparatus Inventory" (PDF). San Francisco Fire Department. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Fire Department -". Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  4. ^ "About Us - Fire Department". Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  5. ^ Aleaziz, Hamed (12 August 2017). "Earl Gage, SF's 1st black firefighter, to be memorialized Monday". SFGate. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  6. ^ "San Francisco Fire Department Apparatus Inventory" (PDF). San Francisco Fire Department - Fireboat Phoenix. Division of Training. pp. 84–85. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  7. ^ "San Francisco Fire Department Apparatus Inventory" (PDF). San Francisco Fire Department. Division of Training. pp. 83–84. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  8. ^ "New Fire Boat Joins San Francisco's Department". Retrieved 2016-08-09.
  9. ^ "Media Advisories & PSAs | Fire Department". Retrieved 2016-08-09.
  10. ^ Nolte, Carl (October 17, 2016). "SF welcomes new fireboat to fleet on anniversary of Loma Prieta". San Francisco Chronicle.
  11. ^ "Fire Station Locations - Fire Department". Retrieved 21 April 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°47′N 122°25′W / 37.783°N 122.417°W / 37.783; -122.417