Then + Now: Presidio Firefighters

Thursday, Dec 01, 2016 Category History

The San Francisco Fire Department has been in the Presidio for over 150 years. Let's take a look back at the history of our very own Presidio firefighters, starting with the soldiers who fought the fire at Brigadier General John J. Pershing's house in 1915.

Not only does the Presidio's firefighting history go way back, but so does the park's own fire house. In 1917, two years after the Pershing fire, the fire house building was constructed in the Presidio using wood from the Panama Pacific International Exposition race-track grandstand. Though the fire department is now staffed by firefighters provided by the San Francisco Fire Department, the fire house still remains in the Trust's inventory of buildings and part of the rich history of our Presidio firefighters.

San Francisco Firefighters Annual Toy Program

Each year during the holiday season, San Francisco fire stations throughout the City provide an on-site toy donation drop in support of needy families.

Learn more about the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Donation Program >>

Horse drawn wagon in front of house

Then – 1915: This horse drawn fire wagon responded to the fire at Brigadier General John J. Pershing's house, pictured here, on August 27, 1915.

Firefighters on truck in front of station

Then – 1933: The Presidio Fire Department's spiffy fire engine out in front of the fire station – a big upgrade from the horse drawn fire wagon.

Photo by San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Holiday lights in front of fire station in black and white

Then – 1951: Proof that the Presidio fire house went all out for the holidays. Here they show their spirit with strings of lights and a giant light-up "greetings" sign.

Photo by Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives

Two men and boy scouts with toy pile in front of US flag

Then – 1954: The fire department repaired toys collected by Boy Scouts and gave them out to underprivileged children during the holiday season. Fire Chief George Geller is pictured here with Boy Scouts.

Photo by Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives

Group on back of fire truck

Then – 1956: Boy and Girl Scouts participated in Fire Prevention Week in the Presidio – they even got to climb on the fire truck.

Photo by Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives

Nurse using fire extinguisher outdoors

Then – 1963: At Fire Prevention Week in 1963, Letterman General Hospital nurses took a turn at putting out a demonstration fire.

Photo by Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives

Modern day firefighters between two fire trucks in front of Presidio station

Now: Today, the Presidio firefighters are doing an excellent job of keeping the fire trucks and the fire house in the holiday spirit while preserving the history and tradition of the Presidio Fire Department.