Monthly Archives: March 2015

Residents Urged to Prevent Home Fires during Unseasonably Warm and Dry Conditions

Amid the recent San Francisco apartment fires that left many families having to find new housing, and the unseasonably warm weather and excessively dry conditions, the City urged all San Franciscans to take measures to prevent residential fires.

At the San Francisco Fire Department Division of Training, the San Francisco Fire Department, joined by the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management, and San Francisco Public Works, City representatives delivered important fire safety and home fire prevention methodology.

Fire Prevention PSA 2

“The best way to manage fires is to prevent a fire from ever starting in the first place” says San Francisco Fire Chief Hayes-White.  “Knowing what has the potential to start a fire is the first step. From there, it’s a matter of being continuously mindful and observant to protect our homes and loved ones from fire.”

“Fires have potential to quickly become large-scale emergencies, as we experienced in the Mission and in other parts of the City last month” Said San Francisco Department of Emergency Management Executive Director, Anne Kronenberg. “The Department of Emergency Management’s role is to support all response agencies from the initial calls to 9-1-1 when we dispatch first responders to the scene of a fire, to the longer-term efforts associated with helping those impacted by fire to recover. But at the heart of the matter, knowing how to prevent fires is San Francisco’s collective responsibility.”

The City engages in many fire prevention practices, including using landscaping goats to control overgrown brush in areas such as Glen Canyon, Corona Heights, and other steep slopes.  San Francisco Public Works also stands at the ready to remove debris or other possible fire hazards and encourages residents to call 3-1-1 to report cases of this nature.  “We all need to work together to reduce the risk of fire,” said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “If you see an overgrown lot, contact 3-1-1 with the location and we will respond.”

The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection provides fire safety requirements to property owners, and strives to increase owner and tenant vigilance with regard to fire safety. “Following the recent spate of tragic fires in the Mission and Tenderloin neighborhoods,” said Tom Hui, S.E., C.B.O. and the City’s Building Official, “DBI inspectors are performing City-wide life-safety spot-checks, or routines, on older mixed-use apartment buildings and, where inspectors discover life-safety and fire-safety code violations, we are increasing our enforcement litigation referrals. We continue to urge residents to call 3-1-1 (or to call DBI directly: 415-558-6220) to report any suspected code violations— especially those related to life-safety systems within a residential building.”

During the home fire prevention demonstration, the San Francisco Fire Department delivered the following fire prevention messages that apply now, during warm and dry weather, and at any point during the year:

While some fire prevention tips apply year-round:

  • Never leave food on the stove or in the oven unattended
  • Never leave burning candles unattended
  • Keep combustible items away from heat sources
  • Properly dispose of smoking materials
  • Keep matches out of reach of children’s little hands
  • Do not overload electrical outlets

Other warm weather fire tips should be noted as well:

  • Check propane tank hoses & connections for leaks before lighting the grill
  • Douse hot coals or campfires with water before leaving the area
  • Dispose of barbeque coals in a non-combustible container such as a metal bucket
  • Keep a minimum clearance of 4 feet around the barbeque grill
  • Keep weeds and foliage trimmed and clear of fences, decks and homes
  • Fire Prevention PSA

Tsunami Preparedness 101

This week marks national Tsunami Preparedness Week and DEM wants San Francisco to know what to do in the event of tsunami hitting our shorelines.

Tsunamis are NOT like normal waves at the beach. When they approach land they are like a surge or fast flood. Earthquakes are nature’s warning for a possible tsunami, so if you are by the coast and the earth moves, first: Drop, cover, and hold on; second: When the shaking stops, get to high ground; and third: stay away from the coast.




Sometimes it takes many hours for the first waves of a tsunami to reach the shoreline, and often times the first waves (or surges) are not the highest or most powerful.  Whether we are under a tsunami advisory, watch, or warning it is imperative that anyone in coastal areas listen to DEM’s instructions.  Our primary methods of issuing the notification are AlertSF, the Outdoor Public Warning SirensWireless Emergency Alerts, and @sf_emergency and @SF72org on Twitter. Tuning in to radio news (such as KCBS 740 AM or 106.9 FM) and TV also is a good way to get information about the tsunami.

The 101 on tsunamis:

Know the warning signs:

  • A strong earthquake
  • A sudden rise or fall of the ocean tide
  • A loud, roaring sound (like an airplane or a train) coming from the ocean

Take action:

  • Move inland to higher ground
  • Stay away from the beach until officials advise it is safe to return
  • Follow instructions from local officials (AKA us!)

Spread the word:

  • Once you have taken action tell family, friends, and co-workers to do the same (social media is a great way to spread the word)

Scientists Confirm: We Live in Earthquake Country

Today the U.S. Geological Survey released a new earthquake forecast that California will experience an earthquake 8.0-magnitude or greater within the next 30 years.  Aside from the specific geological explanation about what will happen when certain faults move, most of us already know that we live in an earthquake-prone region. But psychologically, the thought of a looming disaster that could happen in five minutes or nearly a third of a lifetime from now can feel scary, daunting, and…intangible.  So often times we push the thought out of our minds and focus on something that’s more pressing and timely, even though we know we should eventually get prepared for a major earthquake.

But here’s the thing about earthquake preparedness—we’re not trying hunker down in our bomb shelters as the zombie apocalypse destroys any vestige of our social structure; it’s really just about having enough food and water on hand to make nine meals, talking about what you would do in an emergency with your clan (download SF72 Make A Plan), and getting connected within your community so you can support each other when needed.

Plan Basics

Knowledge also gives you control over the impact an earthquake can have, so knowing what to do before, during and after an earthquake; AND knowing where to get emergency public information is key.  Check out the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety for simple things you can do to make yourself safer.  Register for AlertSF and follow us @SF_Emergency for the emergency information DEM will be sharing so we all can get back to normal as soon as possible.



Today’s USGS forecast also comes on the 4th anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, which caused by the largest fault slip ever recorded. As we reflect upon what happened to our global neighbors in Japan four years ago today, let’s not wait until the next disaster to show how connected and prepared we are. Check out to learn more about how to be prepared for any type of emergency; you’ll find you’re more prepared than you think. And when you’re ready for a deeper dive into emergency preparedness, consider taking the San Francisco Fire Department’s free Neighborhood Emergency Response Team training where you’ll learn hands-on disaster skills that will help those us responding to a personal emergency as well as act as members of a neighborhood response team.

More Prepared

Spring Forward (& How’s Your Stored Water Supply?)

Daylight Savings

It’s that time of year!  Where we set our clocks forward and lose that hour of sleep we wish we had on Monday morning. Daylight saving time also is a good time to make sure you have enough emergency water.


One gallon of water per person per day is what you want to have on hand for emergencies.  This supply should be replaced every six months, so how about starting this bi-annual routine this weekend?

For more information on storing water visit the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

And while we’re checking on our water supply, how about checking your smoke alarm batteries (and replace as needed!), too? Here’s to a very SF72 (AKA prepared) spring and summer!