Obscura Society - San Francisco Fireboat tour

In May, we were excited to find ourselves with an intriguing, if last minute and slightly mysterious, opportunity to visit the small historic Fire Boat House at Pier 22 1/2 in San Francisco.

The tiny fire station was once part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and was moved to its current home near the base of the Bay Bridge to serve as the city's only firehouse dedicated to the city's two fire boats.

Obscura Society - San Francisco Fireboat tour

The firehouse is currently under construction, but the main room, with its vintage spiral staircase, wood paneling and old bell system still in place, looks much the way it would have nearly a century ago, despite being a fully functional station.

Obscura Society - San Francisco Fireboat tour

Map of the San Francisco Shoreline inside the station

Obscura Society - San Francisco Fireboat tour

Engine Company #8 arrived at the station to take us out on the bay

Obscura Society - San Francisco Fireboat tour

The fireboat Phoenix, awaiting our arrival

Prepared for a tour of the firehouse and a peek at the two fireboats, we were surprised and delighted to be herded out onto the pier and brought on board the Phoenix for a surprise trip out on the bay.

Obscura Society - Fireboat Ride Along

View from the tiny top deck as we sped away from the city

Obscura Society - Fireboat Ride Along

Getting ready to pass under the Bay Bridge for a visit to McCovey Cove, where a ballgame was in progress

Obscura Society - Fireboat Ride Along

There is nothing quite like the experience of driving a boat like this on a beautiful day on the bay. We can't thank the SFFD enough.

Obscura Society - Fireboat Ride Along

Post-ride visit to the very hot, and very impressive engine room

Obscura Society - Fireboat Ride Along

Some lovely gauges in the engine room

When it was all over, we immediately went back asking for more - and last Saturday we went out for an encore visit

Obscura Society - San Francisco Fireboat tour

The fireboat Guardian, donated to the city of San Francisco by grateful residents of the Marina District after the 1989 earthquake and fire

This Saturday it was actually hot in San Francisco! The Obscura Society gathered a group of camera slinging, history loving locals and headed down to the fire boat house once again for a beautiful for day on the bay.

The Phoenix was built in 1954 and responsible for saving the Marina District after the 1989 earthquake after the failure of the primary hydrant system. Her amazing crew took us on a fantastic cruise around Alcatraz, past the SS Jeremiah O'Brian, under the bridge to McCovey Cove and up to the bay side side-walk of the ferry terminal where the engineer looked at us and said, "It's time to do some PR work" before joyfully hanging over the edge of the boat to hand out Junior Firefighter hats to the kids who came running up to the boat.

Obscura Society - Fireboat Ride Along

View of the wood-lined wheel house

Obscura Society - Fireboat Ride Along

A little saltwater

Obscura Society - Fireboat Ride Along

Obscura Society - Fireboat Ride Along

This is why you want to be an Obscura Society Field Agent - Field Agent Tre at the wheel

The tour left each of us soaked in salt water and smiling like a little kid, with a greater appreciation for the fireboat and its importance in San Francisco history and safety.

Obscura Society - Fireboat Ride Along

 
We'd like to thank the SFFD for making our two outings with the fireboat possible, and for the amazing job they do keeping our city safe. Thank you.
 
Check out the rest of the photos from our adventures here: 

PHOTOS

Obscura Society Fireboat Photos

 DO IT YOURSELF

You can see the fireboats parked on the bayside of Pier 22 1/2 any time. Private visits like ours are available by special arrangement with the SFFD. Details here>

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO JOINED US!

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Places in this article

Pier 22½ & the SFFD Fire Boats

San Francisco, California
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