SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - San Francisco’s fire training facility on Treasure Island is slated to close and the clock is ticking for city officials to find a new site.
The training center is where San Francisco firefighters hone their life-saving skills, practicing everything from ladder climbs and window rescues in full gear to freeing victims from cars using the “jaws of life” and finding people buried under rubble.
But the facility is slated to close in the next five years, leaving the department up against a deadline to find a new, suitable location. Developers are scheduled to take over the property on Treasure Island in 2024.
“It's something that we desperately need and something that we are committed to making sure that we have,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
The mayor is pushing a “public safety bond” on the March ballot that would fund replacing the current training center. The city also needs to identify a seven- to nine-acre site to accommodate the wide range of life-and-death situations that firefighters prepare for at the current facility.
With the deadline fast approaching, SFFD and its union invited city leaders to the Treasure Island training center to see why it’s imperative to identify a new site for firefighters and EMS to practice their skills.
Some city officials participated in a drill mimicking a shooting on Market Street, along with KTVU reporter Heather Holmes.
"Everything was fast paced and it's tight in there, “said Supervisor Shamann Walton. “It was very eye-opening. And again, just to see how hard and how fast things happen and how they have to work, particularly in a moving vehicle. I don't know how they do it every day.”
"This has changed my entire understanding of what our incredible firefighters do every single day,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen.
By the end of the program, everyone who participates was drenched in sweat and exhausted, but said they gained a better understanding of the job and the need for the training facility.
“We don't want to practice on the public,” said SFFD Captain Darius Luttropp. “We are not in the business learning our trade entirely on the streets. We don't want the first time somebody pulls a hose line to be at a structure fire of a citizen of this city. We want it to occur here."