Guardians of The City SFFD Home Page - San Francisco Fire Department Museum
Chief Engineers - Chiefs of Department:

Patrick H. ShaughnessyChief Engineer
1906 - 1910

Patrick H. Shaughnessy
  • Born in Virginia
  • Appointed to the Department, March 15, 1886, age 34
    • Assigned to Engine Co. No. 9, 1886
  • Appointed Foreman, Engine Co. No. 9, 1887
  • Appointed Assistant Engineer, 1889
  • Appointed District Engineer, March 15, 1890
    • Assigned to District 1
  • Appointed Assistant Engineer, 1892
    • Assigned to District 8, 1900
  • Appointed Chief Engineer, June 16, 1906
  • Retired March 16, 1910
  • Died - October 1925

Chief Shaughnessy showed great initiative and lost no time in rebuilding the Department to its former effectiveness. It was during his term of office that construction was initiated for installation of the Auxiliary Water Supply System, considered to be one of the most important protective features of the Department. It permits the rapid concentration of powerful streams without the use of pumpers in the congested value and adjoining mercantile, industrial and closely built residential districts.

Construction of the system had been repeatedly urged by Chief Sullivan since the 1890's, but it took the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 to give the necessary impetus for initiation.

Authorized by a bond issue of $5,200,000, the system was designed by the foremost engineering experts with a view to preventing a recurrence of the 1906 catastrophe. The system, comprised of Twin Peaks Reservoir at an elevation of 750 feet, and complimented by two intermediate tanks, is able to supply almost any block of the congested high-value district with 15,000 gallons a minute at a pressure of 229 psi. The supply is delivered through a closely grid ironed distribution system which was served initially by 889 hydrants. These hydrants were, and still are, for the exclusive use of the Fire Department. (Hydrants now number over 1400 - 1974)

Two pumping stations built on bed rock, with a combined capacity of 24,000 gallons per minute at a 300 pound pressure, are ready to pump into the high pressure system at a moment's notice.

Two fireboats, the Dennis T. Sullivan, and David Scannell, while independent fire fighting units, were built as, and formed part of, the city's "Auxiliary Water Supply System." Completed in 1909 at the Risdon Iron Works at a combined cost of $279,618, they were each capable of delivering 10,000 gallons of water per minute. Permanent manifold connections located along the water­front permitted either or both of the boats to pump into and supplement the high pressure system.

These boats effectively safeguarded the harbor and waterfront for many years until 1954, when they were retired from service due to prohibitive maintenance costs. They were re­placed by the diesel-powered “Phoenix", which has a pumping capacity of 9600 gallons per minute.

As part of the initial auxiliary supply, a system of under­ground reinforced concrete cisterns was developed. Averaging 75,000 gallons each, and now numbering over one hundred and fifty, they are scattered strategically throughout the City to provide an emergency supply in the event of any failure of the regular water distribution system. The entire installation was completed in 1913, and formally accepted by the Fire Department in January 1914.

On March 16, 1910, Chief Shaughnessy, having successfully led the Department through one of its more crucial periods, retired from service.

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