San Francisco celebrated the 27th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake Monday by commissioning an $11.5 million insurance policy — a brand-new fireboat.
The boat, which is 88 feet long, can pump 18,000 gallons of bay water per minute. It is essentially a floating fire hydrant and a regional asset that can fight blazes anywhere on the shores of San Francisco Bay.
The new boat, painted red and white, will be the city’s third fireboat. It was named St. Francis and christened with the traditional bottle of Champagne by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who helped get $8 million in federal grants, the majority of the cost.
The boat was the star of a ceremony held in bright sunshine at the ferry dock at McCovey Cove just outside AT&T Park. After speeches and assorted dignitaries got a quick tour, the St. Francis was moved out on the bay and pumped water high in the air, like geysers, as the crowd applauded and the Riordan High School band played.
Nico Rivera, 8, who is a third-grade student at SS Peter and Paul’s School in North Beach, came up with the boat’s name. A jury picked “St. Francis” from among 300 entries submitted by San Francisco schoolchildren. Nico was on hand Monday to recite a poem about fireboats and to help Feinstein christen the vessel.
“This is the most beautiful boat I was ever on,” said Joel Delizonna, the senior of the three pilots assigned to the city’s fireboats. The St. Francis is based at Fire Station 35 on the Embarcadero with the city’s other two fireboats, the 1954 vintage Phoenix and the even older fireboat, Guardian. The station also houses an engine company of four firefighters, and three fireboat personnel.
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