The Role of the SFPUC in Fire Emergencies

Fire emergencies, while not an everyday occurrence, do happen throughout San Francisco. Fires are routinely handled by “first responders” — firefighters, paramedics, and police — and go largely unnoticed. In certain fire related events, SFPUC staff may be called on to assist firefighters with providing water to extinguish fires.

Utilizing High Pressure Hydrant (part of the emergency firefighting water system).

The SFPUC: A Partner and First Responder

In a fire emergency that is a second alarm or greater, the SFPUC will deploy the on-duty Gateman, the on-call Superintendent/General Foreman, and additional Gateman as needed to the site of the emergency. SFPUC staff work closely with fire personnel to assess damage and develop and implement responses. Water supply is a crucial area of focus for SFPUC personnel.

Water supply is tremendously important in major events because it’s needed for fire suppression. During fire emergencies, the SFPUC’s role is to maintain or, increase if needed, water pressure and supply. This requires more than simply supplying water to firefighters. Staff must know the capabilities and limitations of their equipment as well as the water supply systems that they will use during a firefighting operation. The water main system and the hydrants that are used have a great impact. The City also has a dedicated emergency firefighting water supply system that can be utilized during a major fire, this is also maintained and operated by the SFPUC.

The SFPUC is charged with different duties during emergency situations than are firefighters; our skills, tools and professional experiences complement those of our first-responder partners.

In the peak of a fire emergency, knowing what water system to use is crucial to saving lives and property.

San Francisco Fire Department crews hooking up hoses to High Pressure Hydrant (part of the emergency firefighting water system).