San Francisco to close firehouses for repairs 

The Fire Department will shutter seven firehouses for seismic renovation starting in 2012 as part of a $412 million bond measure approved by voters in June.

The measure was meant to retrofit the underground water system that helps fight fires, and to fund a new police headquarters and fire station. But the main selling point that led to nearly 80 percent of voters approving the bond was the promise to fix The City’s firehouses.

The first to be fully closed will be Station 44 in Visitacion Valley in early 2012, according to Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Mindy Talmadge. Later that year, stations 2, in the North Beach-Chinatown area, 5, in the Western Addition, and 17, in the Bayview district, will be shut down for repairs.

And even before certain stations shut down completely, minor jobs such as roof repairs and plumbing fixes on other stations will be completed without having to close them, Talmadge said.

Firefighters will not be working less either. They will be sent to nearby stations, which will pick up any calls that would normally go to the closed stations.

“There are no plans to reduce personnel,” Talmadge said. “They’ll be responding from other stations in their district.”

Others set for closure include stations 43 in the Excelsior district and 22 in the Sunset district. Those will shut down by the end of 2013. Also, Station 36 at Oak and Franklin streets will close in 2014.

The priority for each station was driven by an engineering analysis, according to Charles Higueras, the bond measure’s project manager who spoke to the Fire Commission in September. If there is a high probability of major damage, those facilities will be attended to first. Another consideration included how important the firehouse is for disaster response.  

No more than three of the Fire Department’s 42 stations will be closed for construction at any one time, said Thomas Doudiet, assistant deputy fire chief.

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