Floating Barge for San Francisco Fire Department Fireboat Station No. 35 Arrives in the Bay Search

Swinerton-Power (the joint venture of Swinerton and Power Engineering Construction Co.), Liftech Consultants Inc., and Shah Kawasaki Architects welcomed the arrival of the steel float from Shanghai for the high-profile design-build project, San Francisco’s Fireboat Headquarters at Fire Station 35.

This project is funded by the San Francisco voters-approved 2014 Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond and is managed on behalf of the City’s Fire Department by San Francisco Public Works, working in combination with Swinerton-Power.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection cleared the float, and it is docked currently at Pier 1 on Treasure Island, where the construction of the approximately 14,800-square-foot fireboat station will commence. Once complete, the new headquarters for San Francisco’s response to all maritime calls for service and post-disaster operations will be floated west across the Bay and anchored in place behind the existing Fire Station 35 at Pier 22 ½ where it will undergo start-up and final commissioning procedures.

Fire Boat Station 35 is Approaching the Home Stretch

As construction of the San Francisco Fire Department emergency response facility approaches the final stretch of construction, the team has been doggedly working to achieve a major milestone: the barge floating over to its permanent location at Pier 22 ½ along The Embarcadero. Power Engineering Construction, Swinerton’s joint venture partner for this project, specializes in marine work and timed the barge’s move so that it takes place in the middle of the night when the tides are low and calm, a significant factor when coordinating a marine operation such as this.

Other work on the Fire Boat Station continues apace while docked at Treasure Island. Swinerton crews have made significant progress inside the building with drywall almost complete and taping making great headway, too. All this happening on a floating barge that, as the building is constructed, requires leveling of the barge due to the increased asymmetric weight of the installed material. Swinerton millwork is set to begin installation of the casework and specialty items like heavy duty medical lockers, scuba gear storage racks, and stainless-steel benches and the DFH team will be installing doors, frames and hardware. Power Engineering has also completed demolition of the North and South aprons which were adjacent to the existing and historic fire station at the Embarcadero and has driven piles for the apron upgrades and pier which will bridge the sidewalk to the ramp leading to the floating structure.

In addition, plumbers and electricians worked within the float installing conduit and pipe in each of the bulkheads while a third-party rescue team monitored their work within the confined spaces providing peace of mind. This was all in preparation to receive the sewage ejector, fuel oil tank and oil interceptor systems which required a lot of coordination to hoist into the hatches and set within the float compartments to connect to the utilities to the points of connection on the landside at The Embarcadero. The exterior skin is almost complete with the curtainwall and glazing and the second layer of exterior panels and steel plates being installed and painted with a coating to withstand the exposure to the marine environment. The terra cotta panels which are coming from Germany, are the final touch to the exterior skin. The facility will feature five fireboat docking stations with shore power hook ups, two jet ski lifts, two davit cranes, SCBA tank refueling, ambulance pathway and other key design points for maintaining operations during both typical emergencies and ones unique to San Francisco, such as an earthquake.

The Fire Boat Station, due to its location along The Embarcadero and its need to be on the Bay to support fire boat operations, is vulnerable to rising seas. The program of the Fire Boat Station is unique in San Francisco and the Bay Area and therefore its uninterrupted operations are critical to emergency operations on the Bay and along San Francisco’s waterfront properties and infrastructure. As a result, designing for sea level rise is a critical design component for this project and is the driving reason behind the concept of a floating structure for this emergency operations facility.

Fireboat Station No. 35 On Course

Fireboat Station No. 35 has just under three months to go before it’s floated over to the San Francisco Embarcadero waterfront for final connections to its permanent location. It will be moored behind the historic existing fire station.

Currently in construction at Treasure Island, the project team has made significant strides working diligently through the pandemic and wildfires to ensure the project stays on track. MEPF in the building is ahead of schedule, and plumbing and electrical work within the structure bulkheads have started with a monitoring crew on site to ensure safe work in the confined space. The building’s exterior skin consists of an almost complete two-layer panel system, with glazing, curtain wall, and terracotta rainscreen. Structural steel, roofing, metal decking, and stairs were all installed and completed without a hitch.

Swinerton crews have been hard at work in the field, too. The self-perform concrete team meticulously coordinated the placement of Level 2 and the roof. They will be returning to place the metal stairs that is a fitting fire engine red colored concrete. Not to be outdone, the framing and drywall self-perform crew did a stellar job using only string lines for exterior and interior framing since lasers and levels could not be used on a float due to the motion of the tides.

The self-perform millwork and doors/frames/hardware, polished concrete, elevator, roll-up doors, exterior terracotta, fireman’s slide poles, and signage are all on track for completion on this unique fireboat station – the only one constructed on a float in North America. Swinerton’s joint venture partner, Power Engineering Construction Co., will soon begin the marine portion of the project, installing a new pier at the Embarcadero, followed by MEPF flexible connections from the pier along a ramp and to the float.

The new fireboat station will house three fire suppression boats, a dive boat, jet skis, and marine rescue craft to ensure immediate access to water rescue and emergency response services and equipment to serve the public out on the bay. The building also includes a command center, scuba and wet gear rooms, fire and marine equipment storage, ambulance dispatch, officer suites, firefighters’ dormitory and a deck off of the Level 2 kitchen and day room, from which the firefighters can admire the breathtaking views of San Francisco Bay.

Floating on the Dock of the Bay

The San Francisco Fireboat Station No. 35 project kicked off with the steel float arriving from China at the end of January 2020. The project team set up shop on Pier 1 at Treasure Island where structural steel began in early February. The station will be constructed on a 140’ x 50’ float to provide safe and immediate acces­s to the fireboats, regardless of tide or sea level rise due to global warming.

At approximately 16,500 square feet, the two-level structure will house three fire suppression boats, a dive boat, jet skis, and marine rescue craft. In addition, the building will feature a command center, scuba and wet gear rooms, equipment storage, ambulance dispatch, officer suites, and a small firefighter’s dormitory. There will also be a new viewing deck accessible to the public. The station will be permanently moored behind the historic Mediterranean-style fire station along the Embarcadero, just north of the Bay Bridge. The new fireboat station will ensure immediate access to water rescue and emergency response services and equipment to serve the public out on the bay.

Swinerton is joint-ventured with Power Engineering Construction Co., who will be handling the marine scope of work for this design-build project. When completed, the team will float the structure along the Embarcadero to its permanent location in late 2020.

Fireboat Station No. 35 Rising Above Water

Fireboat Station No. 35 is well underway at Pier 1 on Treasure Island, its temporary home during construction before it’s floated over and moored behind the historic Mediterranean-style fire station at Pier 22 ½ along San Francisco’s Embarcadero. The station is being constructed on a 165’ x 94’ floating barge to provide safe and immediate access to the fireboats, regardless of the city’s infamous earthquakes or potential sea-level rise due to global warming.

The San Francisco Department of Public Works deemed the fireboat station an essential facility, thereby the project team could continue working amid the shelter-in-place order. The crew quickly adapted to the new COVID-19 permit procedure for submitting Deferred Approvals to the Port of San Francisco, which is the project’s jurisdictional authority. Permits that were submitted electronically included metal stairs, exterior light gage framing, and buckling restrained braces.

The Swinerton crew has been busy with the project, taking advantage of a traffic-free commute and appreciating the sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay. Concrete was placed on Level 2 and the roof, and “fire engine red” concrete will be placed on the metal stairs. The crew is fervently framing the exterior the old-fashioned way, using string lines to flex with the ocean’s motion. The crew will work on sheathing, interior framing, and drywall next. MEPF crews have begun rough-in, and ironworkers have completed one set of metal stairs. Upcoming activities also include polishing concrete on Level 2, roofing, and exterior metal panels.