New Floating Fireboat Station Opens in San Francisco

Fireboat Station 35
Fireboat Station 35
Fireboat Station 35 in San Francisco. Photo: Power Engineering Construction.

On March 10, San Francisco civil and harbor officials opened the long-awaiting floating Fireboat Station No. 35 at Pier 22½, north of the Bay Bridge.

The new two-story, 14,900-square-foot station will house the city’s fireboat and marine rescue watercraft fleet and a rotating crew of 21 fire personnel.

The $50.5 million project was a design-build effort involving Power Engineering Construction Co., Swinerton, Shah Kawasaki Architects and Liftech Consultants.

It sits on a 173-foot-long-by-96-foot-wide steel float that’s anchored by four guide piles.

“Part of being able to respond quickly and efficiently to emergencies is investing in state-of-the-art equipment to support our first responders,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said. “The new Station No. 35 is not only seismically resilient, but it will also rise and fall with the Bay tides and meet the challenges of anticipated sea-level rise driven by climate change.”

To reduce public impact and avoid disruption along the bustling Embarcadero, the float and other marine components were delivered to nearby, and less occupied, Treasure Island where construction took place.

Building the station on top of a float was the solution to some potential future scenarios; climate change and risk of a major earthquake. Being permanently moored to four steel piles, the building will rise and fall with the tides and seamlessly adjust to sea-level rise.

The design of the steel float and its independence from land ensure its ability to withstand a major earthquake and continue to function as a maritime command center.

The new facility fulfills many long-awaited needs of the San Francisco Fire Department and brings all the Fire Station 35 rescue assets into a single location with immediate access to rescue vessels and equipment. There’s mooring for four boats and a driveway onto the float for ambulances and other emergency vehicles. The building expands accommodations for 24-hour SFFD staff from seven to 12 members. And for the first-time, separate and equal accommodations are offered for female firefighters.

Expanding over the water was a solution to lack of land, however, in San Francisco where encroachment into the Bay is highly protected, the entitlement process was complex.

The project was reviewed by 17 different agencies, ranging from neighborhood advisory committees to the Port of San Francisco, and ultimately approved by nine different agencies. They included the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.