San Francisco Fire Department Revives Firehouse Decorating Contest

Tradition from the 1940’s returns

Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle


Hoping to brighten an increasingly grim holiday season, San Francisco firefighters will revive a tradition last seen during the Harry S. Truman administration: a city firehouse-decorating contest with prize money going to charity.

From 1948 to 1950, the San Francisco Fire Department and other city agencies came together to transform fire stations into winter wonderlands, with holiday themes, lights and, in at least one case, live animals.

After the contest was highlighted in a San Francisco Chronicle Our SF history column last week, fire officials decided early this week to restart the tradition, with a contest, judging and winners announced before Christmas.

San Francisco Fire Lt. Jonathan Baxter said firefighters typically get closer to their communities during the holidays. With the department’s annual toy drive shifted online, and other in-person events canceled for safety reasons, the contest will be a way to show civic pride and unity.

“We want to do something that’s going to bring as much of that back as possible, while still adhering to the protective measures that are in place for COVID-19,” Baxter said. “The community wants or needs this as much as I think our firefighters do in San Francisco.”  READ MORE

What is your department doing for the holiday?  Post your photos and videos.

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