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Engine Company Number Conversions:
 

During 1972 and 1973, Chief of Department Keith Calden made the decision to modernize the Department by using the term “fire stations” rather than continuing with the term “firehouses.”  To make this “modernization,” the numbers of engine companies were exchanged so that every engine that shared a station with a truck, known as a double company, would have the same number as the truck.  As an example, 15 Truck and 38 Engine were located at 1000 Ocean Avenue in the Ocean View district.  15 Engine was located at 2150 California Street on the other side of town in the lower Pacific Heights district.  The engine numbers were exchanged so that 15 Engine on California became number 38 and 38 Engine on Ocean became number 15.  At the museum's firehouse at 655 Presidio Avenue, 26 Engine was with 10 Truck.  10 Engine was at 2300 Folsom in the Mission district with 7 Truck.  7 Engine was at 80 Digby on Diamond Heights.  So that the new Station 10 and the new Station 7 would have the same engine numbers it was necessary to have a three way (firehouse) switch.  The 26 number on Presidio was sent to the Digby firehouse, the number 7 on Digby transferred to 10 engine at 2300 Folsom and the number 10 moved to Presidio.  Every month or so, a day was set aside for the changeover of numbers.  In this case Engine 7, 10 and 26 met and exchanged their stamped hose, fittings and appliances.  The only double City firehouse not affected by this change was Station 3, because it already housed Engine 3 and Truck 3.  Several single engine companies also had their number changed.  After World War II the SFFD had 49 engine companies.  Between the years of 1945 to 1971 several companies were deactivated due to city budget cuts.  Chief Calden wanted to have the engine companies in consecutive order so the numbers of engines 45, 46, 47, 48 and 49 were changed.  Engine 45 became number 23, 46 became 31, 47 became 34, 48 became 37 and 49 became number 40.  Since 1974, again due to city budget cuts, several companies have been deactivated.  They are Engine companies 4 and 30.  Truck companies 4 and 20 also have received the budget axe along with all four Salvage companies, one Battalion Chief's district and an Assistant Chief's Division.

Another necessary part of this engine number change process was the hand remarking of the run assignment cards in every firehouse.  At this time the alarm bell, register tape, peg board and response run card, system, used since 1877, was the method to respond to fire calls.  The computer dispatch response did not enter the SFFD until 1978.  During this changeover the crews at every firehouse worked for two hours each morning on the hand marking changes of their run cards. There were over four million hand marked crossed out and changed numbers on the Department's run cards.  It took over two years to make this massive change of engine numbers.

SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT
Engine Company Number Conversions
1972 – 1974

May 16, 1972
Engine 46 became 31
June 2, 1972
Engine 19 became 30
Engine 30 became 19

July 12, 1972
Engine 40 became 12

July 20, 1972
Engine 49 became 40
September 26, 1972
Engine 45 became 23
Engine 23 became 20
Engine 20 became 16
January 12, 1973
Engine 14 became 36
Engine 36 became 14
January 16, 1973
Engine 6 became 27
Engine 27 became 6
March, 1973
Engine 4 became 35
Engine 35 became 8
Engine 8 became 4
May 25, 1973
Engine 47 became 34
Engine 34 became 5
Engine 5 became 2
July 6, 1973
Engine 15 became 38
Engine 38 became 15
August 17, 1973
Engine 7 became 26
Engine 26 became 10
Engine 10 became 7

September 28, 1973
Engine 18 became 44
Engine 44 became 18

November 21, 1973
Engine 1 became 13
Engine 13 became 11
Engine 11 became 17
Engine 17 became 1
January 2, 1974
Engine 37 became 9
Engine 48 became 37
 

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