While on our way to a meeting a few weeks ago, Telstar Logistics happened upon the San Francisco Fire Department's fireboats Guardian and Phoenix as the two boats were tied up at Station 35, at Pier 22 1/2, right alongside the Bay Bridge. With a few minutes to spare before our appointment, we sauntered over to take a look.
Phoenix, shown just above, was built in 1954. She became a certified hero after her pumps helped prevent the immolation of San Francisco's Marina District following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake â an accomplishment which earned the boat both the eternal gratitude of the city and her very own children's book. The San Francisco Fire Department Museum's website tells the tale of how Phoenix saved the day:
At about 6:00 PM Phoenix was called to respond to the Marina, but only Pilot Arvid Havneras, Engineer Hardy and Lt. Bob Banchera were left to man the boat. "We could see a fire in Oakland, then Richmond called to ask for our help with a big gasoline spill, and we could see a huge cloud of gray smoke over the Marina. I immediately went below to get the pumps running and then came topside to help if I could as Arvid maneuvered right in through the crowded yacht harbor. Incredibly he was able to get us in close to Divisadero St. without hitting anything despite the rapidly dropping water level. Volunteers were all over the dock; some were dressed in business suits, other in shorts and sneakers. With their help we quickly pulled out as much 3 inch hose as we could. We hooked up three lines to an engine on shore and began pumping right away. Soon we had ten lines working. We pumped continuously for 15 hours with two pumps wide open - 6400 GPM. [This was over 5.5 million gallons of water.]
After the earthquake, the citizens of the city rallied to purchase another fireboat to augment the SFFD fleet:
The Guardian was a gift to the people of San Francisco from two anonymous and very generous donors from the Marina district who gave $300,000 towards the purchase of the vessel shortly after the earthquake of October 17, 1989. It was their way of saying "thank you" for a job well done by the Phoenix [...] Guardian, a fine boat with exceptional firefighting capacity, and had previously served as a fireboat for the city of Vancouver, B.C. She had been declared surplus and was in the hands of a salvage dealer waiting to be dismantled and sold for scrap. [...] At the time of her arrival, Guardian was known only as "Fireboat #2", her Vancouver name. At the request of the donors, her new name was chosen by the grade school children of San Francisco. Christopher Smith, age 6, of St. Cecilia's school submitted the winning name. Unknown to the judges, Christopher's father was a SF firefighter.
SFFD Fireboats (San Francisco Fire Department Museum website)
(PHOTOS: All photos by Telstar Logistics)