San Francisco Loses Federal Grant for Fire Boat

The San Francisco Fire Department just lost a $7.8 million federal grant for the city’s first new fire boat in 50 years because it didn’t spend the money in time.

In late 2009, the Federal Emergency Management Agency tentatively awarded the city a port security grant for a new boat — provided it got some matching funds.

It wasn’t until January 2011, however, that FEMA signed off on the city’s request to use a Chevron grant to help cover the costs.

The catch was that, by then, the Fire Department had to have the boat built and ready to go within 2½ years.

The first step was getting a design, a process that apparently had to be stopped when one of the bidders objected to the criteria used to award the contract. It took months to get a new $400,000 contract in place.

Then the construction bids went out. But the San Francisco Chronicle reports that more undisclosed problems prompted the city to toss out the two bids submitted, and a second round was ordered in February.

Recently the new proposals came in, and the winner reportedly came in at $12 million.

The problem: Now there’s no way the 90-foot “super pumper” can be built by the end of next month to meet the federal deadline.

Even enlisting the Firefighters Union in a last-minute rounding of lobbying to U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and to House Leader Nancy Pelosi, couldn’t salvage the deal.

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