Fire Department and Emergency Response Issues

Fire Department issues with the street improvements:

SFFD 1-desktop from zRants on Vimeo.

CSFN General Assembly Presentation by Assistant Deputy Chief Anthony Rivera, July 18, 2017
Powerpoint attached

Most difficult issues: When asked which of the many issues SFMTA is throwing at the department, the chief had to pause to think about it. His final answer was the parking protected bike lanes. They create a lot of issues, especially when they are near the Muni power lines, or any high-voltage power lines when steel ladders are needed. They create additional problems with ladder access. Anything that creates a barrier between the response vehicles and people in distress, or property that needs protection is a problem. The only thing the public can do to improve the situation is to apply political pressure. Let your authorities know who you trust to put out fires and protect human life in emergencies. Insist that they set the standards for doing their jobs.

Standards: There are state regulations and OSHA regulations that apply to the Fire Departments and their personnel. We need to look into where the authorities lie at the state, federal, and city levels and act accordingly. (more on this subject as we look into it.)

Time: Fires double in size every minute. We need to watch the response times as those are a major factor in determining the effects of traffic on arrival times. All arrival times are tracked and information is available to the public.

Geography: SF has a unique set of problems with geography, hills, narrow roads, winding roads, etc. that make the job of fighting fires more challenging. Trucks must carry huge heavy loads of water because not all fire hydrants are working of available.

Bulbouts: are dangerous on a number of levels. The trucks are meant to be level to balance heavy loads. Trucks need 4″ high to roll over. Most are 6″ high. If SFMTA changes to 4″ they may rollover them, but the trucks are not level and the pedestrians must know to avoid being hit by trucks rolling over “pedestrian safe” bulbouts. This concerns fire department as it puts pedestrians at risk. Some hydrants were moved to accommodate bulbouts without their notice or approval and cannot be easily accessed.

Truck specifications: City is spending millions to replace trucks that were purchased around six years ago that don’t meet the new “Wiener” standards that require more narrow trucks for the narrowing lanes. Not all will be replaced so they will have a mix of trucks. (This makes for a more expensive repair shop, my comment)

Damages due to road conditions: All the trucks are susceptible to damage as they hit higher than 4″ bumps. New buses, ordered to specifications, are on order but will not be delivered for a while. They will have a better turning radius and a better fit for the narrow streets. Much of the ambulance equipment is delicate and easily damaged by flying over and landing after hitting a bump. The public may request reports and cost of repairs.

General Hospital: There were major designs changes after approval of the project. As we understand it, medians were approved based on ER the entrance on 23rd Street. At some point the entry was moved to 22nd street. The Fire department was not involved in that decision and no one looked at the medians in front of the 22nd Street entrance that are hampering the access for ambulances and ER vehicles.

Parking protected bike lanes: OSHA sets standards for workers safety around electric wires. Steel ladders cannot touch or be within 10 feet of those wires because they are high-voltage and may arc. Rain creates a particularly dangerous situation. Trucks have to balance their loads and extending ladders may require a space of up to 16 feet of open space on the opposite side of the ladder. Ladders need to be as vertical as possible to balance loads so they need to be as close as possible to the buildings where they are deployed. More details and more accurate information may be gleaned from the powerpoint presentation.

Incident counts: We understand the average counts of fires and incedents involving emergency vehicles is one significant fires per day and around 700 ambulance calls a day, so emergencies are not rare. Some neighborhoods experience a lot more than others.

Fire Truck and Engine Maneuvers on Potrero prior to the medians and other street obstacles.