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San Francisco fire crews helped battle Station blaze, but was it enough?

September 1, 2009 | 10:23 pm

Firefighters from around the nation have come to help with the Station fire. But not all agencies were able to provide all the help local officials sought.

The San Francisco Fire Department received a request over the weekend to send a strike team – five engines and a leader -- down south to help with the Station fire. 

But it was only able to send part of a strike team, said Mindy Talmadge, department spokeswoman. 

“It’s just a matter of how many available engines we have at the time,” Talmadge said. “We didn’t have enough to form a full strike team at that request.” 

The department sent down two engines, eight firefighters, a strike team leader and an assistant, which teamed up with crews from Marin County to form an entire strike team. 

Another request for more crews was made, but the department was dealing with its own fires in San Francisco – a four-alarm fire at a warehouse that lasted 25 hours, and a three-alarm fire, Talmadge said. 

Some of the department’s rigs were in the shop being repaired, Talmadge said. 

But John Hanley, head of the San Francisco Firefighters Union, said that it was “embarrassing” that the department could not send a full strike team to Los Angeles.

 “We have 250 firefighters that are highly trained, and they want to be in the middle of the fight, and they are" angry,Hanley said. “They see it on TV, they saw brave guys die. It’s very upsetting and terrible for morale for these guys not to be able to go.” 

Hanley said that despite the fire activity in San Francisco over the weekend, the department should have sent more personnel and equipment to help with the Southern California fires. 

Lori Newquist, a spokeswoman for the California Emergency Management Agency, which coordinates mutual-aid assistance, said that fire departments around the state “give what they can” based on their personnel and equipment.

--My-Thuan Tran

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