Evolution of the Department
As has already been recited, steps for the organization of the fire department were taken early in 1850. For sixteen years the volunteer department was the most important factor in the Citys life. As quoted from the Annals of San Francisco
The volunteer system need not be abandoned for a paid fire organization. Nothing could replace the loss of an institution so highly valued.Yet the hour of those stirring days, when men manned the pumps, had already struck. It was realized that much valuable time was lost, after an alarm had been sounded, before the volunteers could assemble and haul their apparatus to the scene of a fire. Demands had been made that a paid organization replace the volunteer. And also that certain men should be always on duty so that time would be saved in getting stated. The horses assisted in this. After much agitation a new order of things was established and the paid department went into effect on the first Monday in December 1866. The following statement appeared in the report of the Fire Commissioners as published in Municipal Report 1866-67:
Its organization being completed, the Department went into active operation on the first Monday in December, 1866, since which time its workings have been repeatedly tested and are believed to have met with the approval of the public.It will be noted that 115 men, while ostensibly members of the Department, were known as call men. They worked at their daily avocations, but responded to alarms. The force was sufficiently manned with fully paid men, who were always on duty, who could get the apparatus to the fires, but it needed the assistance of the call men to do firemens duty once the apparatus had arrived at the scene of the action. In the year 1900 this was again changed. The call men were done away with and the entire Department was placed on full pay and their entire time required for fire duty.
The march of events was already forecasting even greater changes.
What is known as the two-
Under the old system, prior to the two platoon, there were 48 engine companies, 12 truck companies, 12 chemical engines and 1 water tower.
With the system as it began under the two platoon, there were 41 engine companies, 14 truck companies, 13 chemical engines, 2 water towers and 2 fireboats. To this has also been added the high-
City and County of San Francisco