First responders don’t always wear uniforms. Sometimes these heroes don hard hats, tyvek protective suits and N100 masks. One of these heroes was Murat Bozkurt, a project manager with the Project Management Bureau, who got the call late evening on November 16. Murat said goodbye to his wife and six month old daughter, packed his work bag, personal protective equipment and some clothing, and headed to the Camp Fire in Butte County before the sun came up the next morning.
With climate change and sea level rising, wildfires, intense winter storms, and other natural disasters are the now new normal. While California is no stranger to these events, we are reminded that disaster can strike at a moment’s notice.
Providing mutual assistance and support to other counties around the nation during major natural disasters is one of the hallmarks of public service. Consistent with this commitment, the City and County of San Francisco deployed 93 employees to support fire response and recovery efforts in Butte County and Southern California. Murat was one of two employees from the SFPUC that headed toward the flames.
Murat deployed to the Camp Fire as part of FEMA California Taskforce 4 as a structural specialist. His primary responsibility was to assess damaged structures to ensure it was safe for first responders and K9s to enter. If structures were not deemed safe, then Murat looked at alternative or temporary solutions to allow for safe access.
“Even though I wasn’t able to spend Thanksgiving with my daughter and family, I felt good giving back to the community,” said Murat. “You don’t need to be a firefighter or police officer to provide assistance during disasters. I’m a civil engineer and there are organizations that provide emergency response training in your local area. Find them and get involved. I’m sure you will find joy in helping others during times of need.”