The sun had yet not risen when the sirens began to sound. It was the morning of Wednesday, April 18, 1906 and the city of San Francisco was shaken awake by an earthquake measuring 8.25 on the Richter scale.
Having received the strong quake shocks for over a minute, the city was badly damaged and the residents rushed out to check the condition of their property, to protect their families and control the damage. But the worst was yet to come.
More than 30 fires were reported throughout the city as a result of gas leaks caused by the earthquake. San Francisco began to burn, and would continue to do so for four days and
The water network had also been seriously damaged by the quake, preventing firefighters from controlling the fire by the usual means. Yet this did not prevent them in their attempt to save the city, and they resorted to using all the tools at their disposal. They dynamited entire blocks in hopes of creating a firewall, fought the flames with hoses where the supply hadn’t been cut and installed water pumps to use water from the bay to control fires closer to the coast.
As we all know the firefighters’ attempts to save the city were unsuccessful and 80% of the city was reduced to ashes before the fire was extinguished. After the disaster and over the subsequent years, some of the measures taken by firefighters were strongly criticized, but what nobody forgets is that they remained active during the four days of the tragedy, risking their lives at all times to try to save the city and citizens they served. Many a survivor have told their story of a law enforcement officer entering their homes when they were about to collapse and taking them to open areas or guiding them to safe shelter from the flames that kept advancing.
The American people will not forget the courage of all those men who faced what even today, after 100 years is remembered as the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.
San Francisco today has one of the most prestigious and well equipped fire departments of the United States and the world. Every day it responds to dozens of calls and acts quickly in all its interventions to prevent the catastrophe from happening again.
This elite group ensures the safety of the city and more than 800,000 of its residents through 51 different stations scattered throughout the city to ensure quick arrival at any place where an incident may occur.
However, the department misses a central station from where one can coordinate all operations and act on those operations which require special equipment that are not available at every station, such as helicopters, boats, hydraulic presses for release victims of traffic accidents, etc.
ARCHmedium proposes the creation of this fire station for the city of San Francisco that serves not only to centralize and improve the service but also as a gift and token of appreciation from the city to this department.
The new center should not only be a practical space designed to respond to the needs of firefighters, but must become an icon of the city which rose from the ashes and a reminder of the tragedy, a building that not only the people of San Francisco but the entire world associates with the image of the fire department.
The site chosen to locate the project is situated on the currently unused docks 30-32 of the bay of
This is a particularly suitable location for this use because it is uniquely linked to the main roads of the city, allowing fire trucks to move quickly and effectively to almost anywhere in the city. At the same time it is located on the bay, near the water and away from tall buildings, allowing the firefighters to act via sea and air when needed.
From a social point of view, the site is fully integrated with the skyline of the city, on the southern end of the seafront and has a dominant presence when entering the city through the San Francisco Bay Bridge, the main access route for traffic to town. In this sense the building planned here will not go unnoticed and will be present in the daily lives of thousands of people.