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Port of San Francisco Fireboat:

Governor Markham

Frank G. White

The Governor Markman leads a line to a ship fire along side of the Dennis Sullivan.

Description: A tugboat owned by the State of California and fitted with pumps, a turret, hose discharge outlets, and hose lockers.

Length: 86 feet
Beam: 19 feet 6-inches
Draft: 10 feet 6-inches
Displacement: 80 tons

Engines: Two coal-burning, non-condensing steam engines

Pumps: Two Hooker piston pumps, approximately 542 GPM each

Pumping Capacity: 65,000 gallons per hour

The Governor Markham was a twin tugboat to the Governor Irwin.

Upon receiving notice of a working fire along the Port of San Francisco, the Governor Markham was released from her tug operations and responded to the fire, however, the Governor Markham was never a part of the San Francisco Fire Department.

Negotiations between the State of California, who owned the Port of San Francisco at that time, and the City and County of San Francisco as to who would pay for her fire protection services were never concluded. Due to this fact, there are no records in the San Francisco Fire Department of the Governor Markham’s fire service.

As a Result, Hose Company No. 1 Has Been Organized as an Engine Company.

1895 August 2
In part
The Fire Commissioners and the Harbor Commissioners have had a falling out about the fireboat Governor Markham. During the Scott & McCord fire at the foot of Stewart street, on September 13, 1894, Harbor Commissioner Chadbourne ordered the fireboat away after all danger to the property of the State was passed. Since then there has been a disposition to take the fireboat away at all fires on the water front, and now the captain has received instructions not to respond to any fire alarms except when State property is endangered on the waterfront between Channel street on the south and Powell street on the north.
Source: San Francisco Call, Volume 78, Number 63, 2 August 1895 — THE FIRE BOAT MARKHAM [ARTICLE+ILLUSTRATION]


1895 August 16
The Fire Department
In part
The Fire Commissioners at their meeting yesterday afternoon had before them a communication from President Colnon of the Harbor Board in reference to the removal of the hose" company from the fireboat Governor Markham. President Colnon expressed the regret of himself and Commissioner Cole that there should be any friction between the two boards. He pointed out the importance of protecting the State property on the water front and the shipping from fire, and suggested that a conference between them should be held to define the limitations within which the Markham and another fireboat would be required in case of fire.

The limitations defined by Harbor Commissioner Chadbourne were Powell street on the north and Channel street on the south, which left considerable private property unprotected. The hose company is now merged into Engine Company 30, stationed at Ashbury Heights, but the board delegated President Edwards and Chief Sullivan to confer with President Colnon and Harbor Commissioner Cole as requested.
Source: San Francisco Call, Volume 78, Number 77, 16 August 1895 — THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. [ARTICLE]


1906 June 26
The work of the tugboats Sunday in preventing the spread of the hay wharf fire at Third and Barry streets shows that it would be' a good investment for the State and city to maintain at least two more fireboats. The Fire Department did splendid work from the shore side and successfully prevented inroads of the flames on the inflammable buildings near the scene of the burning hay piles. The tugs not only kept the fire well covered and confined it to a narrow strip of water front, but they towed vessels to. safe docks and saved much valuable shipping.

Owing to the blocked condition of the streets the fire engines found some difficulty reaching the fire. The engines of outlying districts had to take circuitous routes to reach the docks. However, the tugs held the fire in check and until the department got to work, and then Chief Shaughnessy showed how capable he was in handling a dangerous situation, and he demonstrated that no mistakes had been made when he was made the head of the Fire Department. The fire tugs, Governor Markham and Governor Irwin, maintained by the Stale Board of Harbor Commissioners, are both fine fire-fighters. Unfortunately it is frequently necessary to detail one of these vessels to assist in towing State barges and dredgers. The Commissioners aim to keep one boat on fire duty at the bulkhead, but it, too, is sometimes called from its post for special duty in the dredger department. Two fireboats ought to be at the bulkhead at all hours of the day and night to answer fire alarms. If the city could afford to provide one of such craft and the Harbor Commissioners the other the shipping district of the city would be given better fire protection than it has ever had before.
Source: San Francisco Call, Volume 100, Number 26, 26 June 1906 — WORK OF THE FIREBOATS. [ARTICLE]

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