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SF loses federal grant for new fireboat

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POSTED May 15, 2013 9:38 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco Fire Department has lost a $7.8 million federal grant for what would have been its first new fireboat in 50 years because it didn't spend the money in time, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

"It's just a huge disappointment," Fire Commission member Steve Nakajo told the San Francisco Chronicle. "And believe me, we want to know what happened."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency tentatively awarded the city a port security grant for a new boat in 2009, but it required city officials to secure matching funds.

In 2011, federal officials granted the city's request to use a grant from Chevron Corp. But by then, the fire department had to have the boat built within 2 1/2 years.

Subsequent delays in the bidding process made that impossible, and even a last-minute round of lobbying by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi couldn't save the deal, the Chronicle reported.

Tom O'Connor, head of the union, said other departments had spent their money in the same amount of time. He said the San Francisco Fire Department seemed to have "an inability" to get and spend the funds in the allotted time.

But Deputy Fire Chief Ray Guzman said fire officials tried everything to make the deal work.

"I know people want to blame whoever dropped the ball, and I don't see it that way," he said.

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