Monthly Archives: January 2015

San Francisco Comes Together to Help Survivors of the Mission Fire

San Francisco, CA – At 6:30 p.m. this evening the City and County of San Francisco, the American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army will open a temporary emergency shelter to help the survivors of this week’s 4-Alarm Mission Fire.  Sixty-seven San Franciscans including 15 children lost their homes and all of their belongings.

“The devastating Mission Street fire tragically took a life, destroyed many homes and small businesses,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “We are working closely to rapidly rehouse displaced residents and support small businesses as they recover.  Confronted with the challenge of rebuilding their lives, we will continue to support them.  We call on neighbors, friends and partners to assist the families and small businesses to help them recover from this tragedy.”

The temporary shelter located The Salvation Army’s Mission Corps Community Center at 1156 Valencia Street will serve as a place where survivors can stay until housing can be found for them.  At 10:00 a.m. Saturday, the American Red Cross will open a Service Center at the shelter, where survivors can meet one-on-one with Red Cross case workers to assess their situation, create recovery plans, navigate paperwork and locate help. Other agencies and non-profits will be available on site to meet with residents to determine their housing and resource needs.  San Francisco’s Human Services Agency (HSA) will work to facilitate mid-to-long term housing matches.

“The Salvation Army, in partnership with the Red Cross, will provide the Mission Fire survivors with both shelter and a place of respite within their own neighborhood,” said John McKnight, Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army’s Golden State Division. “The Salvation Army Mission Corps has been a part of the Mission neighborhood for over 90 years and it’s our privilege to serve alongside the City of San Francisco, its residents and partner agencies to help rebuild the lives of those affected by this tragedy.”

The best way to help fire survivors and rescue workers is to make a financial contribution. Monetary donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors. The American Red Cross and The Salvation Army have established mechanisms to accept donations.  At this point, in-kind donations are not being accepted.  Used clothing and used furniture are seldom required during an incident. While well intentioned, in-kind donations such as clothing, furniture, and food can hinder the response effort.

“Financial donations allow us and our partners to be flexible in the help we provide and ensure that we can give our diverse communities the help that is most appropriate for their needs,” said Mark Cloutier, Regional Chief Executive Officer of American Red Cross. “We appreciate the offers to provide clothing, food, and other materials but each disaster is unique and so are the needs of its victims. It takes time and money to sort and distribute donated items whereas financial donations can be accessed quickly and put to use right away.”

A number of business owners were also affected by the Mission Fire. The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development  will be at the Mission Police Station Community room on Friday from 10:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m.  assisting businesses with filling out disaster declaration forms so that an application can be made to the State of California  as part of Small Business Administration approval requirements.  Staff will be available to answer questions from business owners and outplaced employees that were impacted by the fire. For direct assistance, businesses can contact Francis Chan at (415) 816-3816. For outplaced employees, contact Carmelo San-Mames at (415) 701-4848. Or visit to learn more about available resources and services.

“In an event like this, where the needs of the displaced resident are so great, they are best served when all of the responding agencies are coordinated. A response like this would easily challenge the resources of one agency, and the services required need to come from various programs. Only through a coordinated effort can all of the multiple resources be brought to bear, and that is the role of the San Francisco Human Services Agency,” said Benjamin Amyes, HSA Disaster Response Manager. ‘Our role is to be sure that all of the needs are met as efficiently as possible by bringing together all of the responders and directing the residents to the services that best fit their needs.”

How to Help:

American Red Cross
All Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. Help people affected by disasters like the Mission Fire and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit, or call 1-800-REDCROSS.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services program provides a number of services to meet the needs of each unique disaster, whether a house fire or major earthquake.  Some of these services include food service, shelter, donations management, emotional care, and disaster case management. Salvation Army assistance is free, funded entirely by donors, and is provided to disaster survivors without discrimination. The Salvation Army uses 100 percent of all disaster donations in support of disaster relief operations. To help, please visit or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY and mention “The San Francisco Mission Fire” when you give.

While the Salvation Army is not accepting in-kind donations for survivors of the Mission Fire, gifts of gently-used household goods, clothing, etc., support the day-to-day work of the Salvation Army in the community. Please consider giving these items to your local Salvation Army Family Thrift Store.


Fire Safety and Prevention is in Your Hands

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Remember the word P.A.S.S PULL -Place the extinguisher on the floor. Hold it by the tank (pressure on the handle could pinch the pin). Pull the pin straight out. AIM -Start 10 feet back from the fire. Aim at the base of the fire. SQUEEZE -Squeeze the lever on the fire extinguisher SWEEP -Sweep from side to side, moving in slowly until the fire is out.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Remember the word P.A.S.S
PULL – Place the extinguisher on the floor. Hold it by the tank (pressure on the handle could pinch the pin). Pull the pin straight out.
AIM – Start 10 feet back from the fire. Aim at the base of the fire.
SQUEEZE – Squeeze the lever on the fire extinguisher
SWEEP – Sweep from side to side, moving in slowly until the fire is out.

Last night’s 4-Alarm Fire in the Mission was tragic as one person lost their life and dozens were left without a home.   As fire investigators determine what happened it is important to remember that there are simple things you can do prevent a fire in your home.   Here are a few:

  • Never leave candles unattended.
  • Don’t overload extension cords.
  • Never leave food on the stove or in the oven unattended.
  • Always unplug small appliances when they are not in use to prevent overheating as well as conserving electricity.
  • Keep combustibles away from space heaters or other heat producing appliances.
  • Allow sufficient space around computers to let them vent properly.
  • Keep your eyes open! If your lights dim every time you plug something in, it could be a sign something is wrong. Likewise, if your circuit breaker keeps tripping, then you should call an electrician to help you.
  • If you see a fire starting at a wall outlet, pull the plug out of the wall and turn off the power to the outlet. Then call 9-1-1.  It is important you do not put water on an electrical fire as this only make things worse.

Finally, remember that smoke alarms should be installed inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level.  Test all smoke alarms at least once a month and replace batteries every six months; however, we recommend upgrading to an extended life smoke alarm (for example: 10 year smoke alarm).

Ready for more?   The San Francisco Fire Department has additional resources to educate yourself and others about fire safety.  Visit  or take the City’s free Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training to prepare for any emergency.

A Little Now Means a lot Later

This afternoon, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake occurred southwest of Ferndale, California (approximately 260 miles north of San Francisco). We think this is a good reminder that we need to do what can now, before the next earthquake impacting San Francisco, because that will make our City’s recovery all the more effective.

So, let’s use Ferndale’s earthquake as an opportunity to not only build upon our earthquake preparedness, but connect within our community networks about emergency preparedness in general. Have a conversation about preparedness with your family, neighbors, friends, and coworkers. Talk about what you would do if an earthquake causes damage in our city, and in our neighborhoods. Visit to learn how to be prepared for earthquakes (along with any type of emergency), and ask your neighbors to do the same.

Plan Basics

We also encourage everyone connect into emergency preparedness by taking the San Francisco Fire Department’s free Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training, and register for the City’s e-mail and text-based notification system

We know disasters, whether it is an earthquake, tsunami, or something human made, can happen at any time with little or no warning. That is why it is important to take steps now so we are ready for any emergency. Let’s not wait until the next disaster to show how connected and prepared we are.

More Prepared

It’s Not too Late to Get a Flu Shot

As I write this blog, I’m home sick with a head cold. Thankfully I could work from home in an effort to prevent the spread of flu…but I don’t have the flu, perhaps thanks to the flu shot I got last November.

“But wasn’t that flu vaccines not as effective as originally thought it to be?” you may be wondering?

Our friends as the San Francisco Department of Public Health want us to know about the benefit of getting a flu shot—even at this stage in the flu season. Their point is simple and reassuring: even during a season when the vaccine is only partially protective against one flu virus, it can protect against the others.

“Even though the flu shot is not a perfect match for all of this year’s flu viruses, it is still worth getting,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, San Francisco Health Officer. “The shot will still protect against other strains of flu that are circulating, and can prevent the severity of flu if you do get sick.”

The facts about the flu (and how to prevent its spread):

Flu Prevention Blog 2

Every year, flu sickens and kills thousands of Americans and is particularly dangerous to the young, elderly and those with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems. In addition to getting vaccinated, it’s important to practice good hand washing and health habits. People who are ill can help stop the spread of germs:

  • Limit contact with others – stay home from work or school
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based rub
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone six months of age or older, but is particularly important for those at higher risk of severe influenza, including pregnant women, children under five years of age, the elderly, and persons with certain underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, asthma and heart disease. Vaccination of pregnant women also helps to protect infants too young to be vaccinated.

This flu season can still become severe. Those at highest risk who show flu symptoms should contact their physician immediately in order to get the most effective treatment.

Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.

Visit a flu vaccine location near you to get immunized. For more information about influenza, visit

One Strap at at Time


“Non Structural Mitigation” is a fancy term for doing what you can to prevent things like furniture, appliances, wall decor, etc. from falling or tipping over during an earthquake. This blog is an ongoing journal by DEM’ers (and SF72 enthusiasts!) first-hand incremental steps to prevent the big mess that the big one could cause. We’d also love to hear about anything you’ve done to Beat the Quake, so please share here!

The first in this series of “One Strap at a Time” comes to us from Francis Zamora, DEM’s Public Information Officer, Mirolama Park resident, and soon-to-be first-time dad.


1 Strap at a Time_1

We all have a little bit of “I should” in us.  I should get back to the gym or I should know what does and does not belong in the compost bin by now. For many us, preparedness is no different: I should be more prepared for an emergency.  While getting…

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