Treasure Island firefighters get temporary home as mayor announces budget boost

TREASURE ISLAND, Calif. (KTVU) -- Eleven San Francisco firefighters rolled into their new home on Treasure Island Tuesday morning, a portable, temporary trailer structure that was set up after mold last forced them out of the decrepit Station 48 just a few blocks away.

Mayor Ed Lee came to the building to announce his new two-year budget plan includes a $35.7 million boost for the fire department after nearly a decade of cutbacks that have impacted service, staffing and morale.

The money will go towards training 82 new firefighters, 33 more EMTs and new fire engines and trucks, along with infrastructure improvements to aging stations and overcrowded facilities.

"In this prosperous time for San Francisco," said Assistant Deputy Chief Ken Lombardi. "It gives us an opportunity to catch our budget back up to where we need to be. It's a step in the right direction."

The announcement comes after many months of criticism directed at Chief Joanne Hayes White over ambulance response times and personnel issues. Hayes-White on Tuesday told KTVU she has declined a recent invitation to apply for a similar job in London.

"Admittedly, it has been a stormy period, no doubt about it. But I'm happy to report the storm is clearing," said Hayes-White. "I'm really proud to continue to serve. And it should get a little bit easier now that we have the funding that we've asked for for a number of years."

The firefighters' union -- which last year called for the Chief's firing -- agreed with her.

"We had our difficult period, but you know, it's a family and sometimes you have a family feud and now we're starting to get along again," said Firefighters Local 798 President Tom O'Connor. "We never wanted to have this sort of confrontation, but I think with this budget going forward, perhaps we can find a way to work together for common solutions."