San Francisco builds floating station for fireboats

Fire Station 35 can adjust to sea-level rise and is built to withstand a major earthquake

(SAN FRANCISCO) — Seemingly overnight, a new structure appeared on San Francisco’s waterfront. Situated at Pier 22½ just behind historic Firehouse 35 and nestled beside the Bay Bridge, this floating building is San Francisco’s new Fire Station 35. The facility is an answer to the city’s long-awaited need for updated fire and marine safety on the bay.

The rapid materialization of Fire Station 35 on San Francisco’s waterfront was due to the method in which it was built. 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 of the building took place. Once complete, the 14,900-square-foot-building was pushed across the bay to Pier 22½ during the night when winds and marine traffic would be low.

Firestation 35 15

Power Engineering Construction Co. photo

Constructing the station on top of a float was the solution to some critical 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.

“I am certain that the new Fireboat Station 35 will become the pride and joy of the people of San Francisco,” said Magdalena Ryor, project manager for San Francisco Public Works. “It is not only an architecturally pleasing structure, but it is an engineering marvel designed in response to looming climate impacts.”

The new facility fulfills many long-awaited needs of the fire department. It brings all the Fire Station 35 rescue assets into a single location with immediate access to rescue vessels and equipment. There is mooring for four boats and a driveway onto the float for ambulances and other emergency vehicles. The building provides increased accommodations for 24-hour fire department staff from seven to 12. And, for the first time, the building offers female firefighters separate and equal accommodations.

When asked about the most interesting part of the project, David Mik, president of Power Engineering Construction Co. (and former U.S. naval officer), said, “The way we built the access ramp. It’s designed after a ro-ro ramp on large oceangoing vessels which allows cargo to be rolled on and off at port. What this did for Fire Station 35 is provide vehicular access to ambulances throughout all tidal changes, sea conditions and seismic events.”

– Power Engineering Construction Co.

Categories: Maritime News