A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Friends: 2020 was an unprecedented year that was dominated by a global pandemic forcing nationwide shutdowns, unimaginable suffering, and loss of human lives. Through it all, the nearly 1,700 Firefighters, Paramedics, and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) of the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) went above and beyond the call of duty to provide lifesaving service under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances in recent history. COVID-19 impacted every aspect of our lives and it highlighted the critical need to maintain a diverse and professional fire department that is fully staffed with adequate resources to protect the people of our City during times of crisis. Unlike others, SFFD Firefighters and Paramedics did not have the option of working from home or avoiding dangerous situations. Over 100 of our own members contracted the coronavirus, with some having cases that were so severe that they required hospital care. As we continue to recover from the pandemic, City leaders will have to make extremely difficult budget decisions. In doing so, it is essential that they do not support anything that will put the public or our Firefighters and Paramedics at greater risk. With that in mind, it is critical that we secure adequate funding to support: • An increase in staffing levels of SFFD Firefighters, Paramedics, EMTs, and administrative personnel. • The replacement of our aging fleet of ambulances and fire apparatus. • The lifesaving Disaster Preparedness projects and programs of the SFFD. The members of Local 798, both on and off duty, have always cared for the people of San Francisco. That’s why we continue to commit our own time and resources to give back and support the San Francisco Firefighters Local 798 Toy Program, the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation, and dozens of charitable efforts to benefit individuals and families in need throughout the Bay Area. It is my honor to represent the most hardworking and skilled Firefighters, Paramedics, and EMTs in the entire country. This book is dedicated to Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Cortez, who tragically passed away after a fatal accident that occurred at the drill tower on October 7, 2020. May God continue to Bless the Cortez Family and all of the men and women working on the frontlines in the City and County of San Francisco. Sincerely,
MISSION Advocate for our members to maintain and improve benefits, wages, and working conditions through collective bargaining to advance fairness and equality in the workplace for the betterment of the laboring class.
VISION Achieve solidarity within our membership through education, engagement, and succession planning and solidify our brand by fostering community and political partnerships through public outreach.
Shon Buford President San Francisco Firefighters International Association of Fire Fighters Local 798
INDEX 2020 BY THE NUMBERS
COVID-19 RESPONSE & RECOVERY
Established in 1866, the San Francisco Fire Department serves an estimated 1.5 million people, providing fire suppression and emergency medical services to the residents, visitors, and commuters within 49 square miles and along 25 miles of coastline. Community Fire Stations are staffed by 1,662 sworn Firefighters and Paramedics who respond to an average of more than 379 emergency calls for service on a daily basis.
FIRE STATION LOCATIONS
2020 BY THE NUMBERS
CALLS FOR SERVICE
SAN FRANCISCO POPULATION 906,412
2020 BY THE NUMBERS
INCIDENTS BY CALL TYPE Alarms Pandemic Outbreak Related Sick Call Breathing Difficulty Overdose Traffic Collision Cardiac Arrest Citizen Assist/Service Call Structure Fire Assault Psychiatric Problems Electrical Hazard Gas Leak Elevator Rescue Smoke Investigation Vehicle Fire Water Rescue Fuel Spill Odor Homeless Encampment Fires Environmental Exposure Hazmat Explosion Mutual Aid Confined Space Watercraft In Distress Train/Rail Incident Hazmat Exposure
11,371 9,656 8,405 7,191 3,780 3,537 3,452 3,357 3,175 2,868 1,785 1,195 935 715 657 396 211 145 135 40 39 35 26 15 9 8 5 5
Total Incident Calls
2020 BY THE NUMBERS
WORKING FIRE STATISTICS ALARM
TOTAL WORKING FIRES
CALLS BY BATTALION B01
TOTAL PROPERTY LOSS
COVID-19 RESPONSE & RECOVERY
COVID-19: ONE YEAR LATER San Francisco, along with the rest of the world, has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the foresight of our civic leaders, a State of Emergency was declared in San Francisco on February 25, 2020, even before a single documented case of the coronavirus was confirmed in our city. Shortly thereafter, Mayor London Breed and Governor Gavin Newsom issued Stay-at-Home orders.
DOING OUR PART From the very start of the pandemic, San Francisco Firefighters continued to show up at work each and every day, even initiating campaigns to ask our fellow San Franciscans to stay home. During these challenging times, people have seen their livelihoods, health, education and employment affected by the pandemic. The San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program has assisted thousands of local families in need not only with toys, but also through the distribution of puzzles, games, school supplies, and even groceries. Nearly 100 of our Firefighters have acquired the coronavirus, and several have gotten extremely ill, even requiring hospitalization. Thankfully we have not lost any sworn personnel in the SFFD to COVID-19. In early 2021, City residents began receiving their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine with SFFD Chief Jeanine Nicholson and San Francisco Firefighters Local 798 President Shon Buford leading the way for other first responders. SFFD Paramedics, EMTs and Firefighters volunteered for training and joined the teams administering the vaccines to their fellow citizens. By May, an incredible 64% of all San Franciscans received at least one dose of a vaccine and 45% have completed a vaccine series.
LEADING THE WAY According to a study by the New York Times, San Francisco has maintained the second LOWEST coronavirus fatality rate per capita when compared to the 20 largest major metropolitan areas in the United States. Our City’s success has been a direct result of the strong partnerships that were created early on between our elected officials, community leaders, and forward-thinking labor unions like the brothers and sisters of Local 798.
WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER In times of crisis, Local 798 has partnered with the City to help alleviate the burden and shoulder some responsibility. Recognizing the importance of working together as a whole City to close the budget deficit brought on by the pandemic, our membership agreed to reopen our current 2018-2021 Memorandum of Understanding and deferred previously negotiated pay raises for two years. These contract amendments will be instrumental in maintaining our current staffing levels while doing our part to help the City and County of San Francisco during an unprecedented financial crisis. Prior to the pandemic, San Francisco Firefighters led the efforts to pass Proposition B, a $628.5 million Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response bond, that will fund seismic retrofitting and resiliency for fire stations, police stations, and other critical public safety infrastructure. In 2018, Proposition C was approved, and it is expected to generate approximately $340 million annually which will be directed at San Francisco’s homeless and housing services. Of this money, approximately $30 million will be allocated for the Department of Public Health to help fund the Street Crisis Response Team led by our Firefighters who are also serving on the frontlines of the homeless crisis. In 2020, Local 798 joined a broad coalition of labor and small business leaders campaigning for Proposition F, which passed in November. Proposition F reformed the City’s business tax to lower the tax burden on small businesses while increasing revenue for city services from larger firms. Proposition F also freed resources from 2018’s Proposition C that had been held up in court. Thankfully, federal aid is also on the way and it is estimated that the City of San Francisco will receive approximately $600 million. While Mayor London Breed had asked all City departments to trim budgets by 7.5% over the next two years, it is our hope that city leaders will continue to value the importance of our work and prioritize fire suppression and emergency medical services in order to keep San Francisco safe.
CRITICAL NEEDS: STAFFING
FIRE SUPPRESSION HIRING CONSENT DECREE In the years leading up to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the SFFD made slow progress recovering from the dangerously low staffing levels of the Great Recession. While not keeping up with the growth of San Francisco’s population or the increase in calls for service, the Department’s staffing numbers mirrored 2007 levels at the close of 2019. However, below the surface of this progress is a demographic time bomb. From 1987 through 1997, the Department operated under a federal consent decree designed to reshape the workforce to reflect the racial and gender diversity of San Francisco. As part of that federal mandate, the Department hired three to four academy classes each year for the ten years of the consent decree. Beginning in 2018 and continuing through 2028, 75 to 100 of those consent decree hires will be reaching the end of their careers each year. Without a continuous hiring program, the Department is doomed to fall back to Recession-era staffing levels even as the city’s population and call volume rebound after the pandemic. Two small fire academy classes in 2021 are funded through federal grant money. This is a temporary solution to the problems caused by the economic impact of the pandemic.
RACIAL EQUITY ACTION PLAN In September of 2018, Mayor Breed issued Executive Directive 18-02 "ensuring a Diverse, Fair, and Inclusive City Workplace." In July 2019, the Office of Racial Equity (ORE) was created as a Division of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission in part to address the history of structural and institutional racism in San Francisco’s delivery of services to the public. The ORE has the authority to direct Departments to develop and implement mandated Racial Equity Action Plans (REAP). The SFFD’s first REAP was released in early 2021 and it outlines goals and strategies in order to continue building a workforce that meets the Department’s mission statement. Local 798 fully supports the Department’s goal under the REAP to ensure that a diverse pool of qualified candidates is available to compete in our hiring process. The SFFD is one of the few paths to the middle class left for qualified working-class San Francisco residents without advanced degrees. The Union will continue to partner with the Department to provide a clear pipeline for our residents to successfully apply for all our entry-level positions. It is important to remember that the Firefighters finishing their careers over the next ten years include some of the pioneer female Firefighters and Firefighters of color who broke new ground in our Department. If their spots are left unfilled, not only will the safety of the remaining Firefighters and the citizens of San Francisco be at risk, but we also risk losing the diversity that has distinguished the SFFD for the past 30 years.
COMMIT TO CONTINUOUS & EQUITABLE HIRING To maintain public safety, the City must keep fire suppression staffing at safe levels through the upcoming years of natural attrition. And to help combat growing income, racial and gender inequity, San Francisco’s civic leaders must commit to providing an ongoing opportunity for our residents to enter the SFFD and protect their fellow citizens.
CRITICAL NEEDS: STAFFING
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES EXPANSION COVID-19 RESPONSE SFFD ambulance crews found themselves working on the front lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic, having to adapt their skills to the ever-changing crisis. Due to asymptomatic spread of the disease, Firefighters, Paramedics and EMTs had to assume every patient was a potential coronavirus victim and take full precautions on every medical call. The pandemic forced itself into the thoughts and behavior of every ambulance crew member as they responded to citizens in distress in their homes and on city streets.
COMMUNITY PARAMEDICINE In addition to staffing the overworked ambulance force, the Department expanded service through its evolving Community Paramedicine program. The program as it stands now consists of two key elements: EMS-6 and the new Street Crisis Response Team (SCRT). EMS-6 was designed to lighten the load on the City’s crowded hospital emergency rooms by addressing the medical needs of under-resourced residents who are forced to use the 911 system as their primary healthcare. The SCRT was designed to minimize unnecessary interactions between law enforcement and people experiencing mental health crises.
2020 EMS-6 CALLS FOR SERVICE EMS-6 Since 2016, a team of SFFD Paramedics known as EMS-6 have been responding to 911 calls from some of the City’s most vulnerable people in the community who rely on the emergency response system for their non-emergency medical, social, and mental health needs. The EMS-6 Team provides specialized support and case management to connect frequent users of the emergency system to services that are more appropriate for their care than a visit to the emergency room, such as a sobering center or mental health clinic. The EMS-6 team utilizes trauma-informed care to support
the needs of patients who suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders and/or are experiencing homelessness. They are able to assess the individual’s circumstances and facilitate access to services that are more suited to their mental health and social needs. The goal of EMS-6 is to reduce 911 calls and lessen the strain on an already taxed emergency system, help divert patients to mental health crisis centers and sobering centers when appropriate, and better serve residents experiencing behavioral crises. During the COVID-19 pandemic, EMS-6 crews located people living outdoors with suspected coronavirus exposure and helped get them tested and transferred to quarantine sites when necessary. They also staffed a quarantine site after an outbreak took place at a sobering center.
CRITICAL NEEDS: STAFFING
STREET CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM The Street Crisis Response Team (SCRT) was launched to respond to mental health and addiction-related emergency calls in San Francisco. This pilot program is part of the first phase of Mental Health SF, the City’s strategic framework for improving the behavioral health response to people experiencing homelessness or suffering from mental health or addiction issues. The SCRT is a critical component of San Francisco’s efforts to provide an appropriate, non-law enforcement response to behavioral health emergencies and divert individuals in crisis away from emergency rooms and criminal legal settings and into behavioral health treatment. The SCRT aims to provide traumainformed clinical interventions and care coordination for people who experience behavioral health crises on the streets of San Francisco. The program is a collaboration between the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the SFFD with significant support from the Department of Emergency Management. Each team includes a SFFD community paramedic, a behavioral health clinician, and a peer specialist. This service model is unique with the incorporation of a behavioral health peer specialist who has experienced homelessness, mental illness, and/or substance use disorder. Peer specialists are people who have been successful in the recovery process and are skilled to help others experiencing similar situations. In each case, the SCRT assesses the situation to determine the most beneficial type of care the individual should be connected with, including behavioral health support, on-scene counseling, or ambulance transport. In addition to funding the SCRT, the City’s budget for Fiscal Years 2020-21 and 2021-22 includes funding to establish an Office of Coordinated Care within the Department of Public Health, increasing behavioral health bed capacity to reduce wait times to access treatment beds, and expanding service hours at the Behavioral Health Access Center.
REPLENISH THE RANKS The EMS-6 and the SCRT programs help meet the challenges of San Francisco’s modern urban environment, but both programs are also largely staffed from the ranks of the Fire Department’s ambulance crews, already stretched thin by increased call volume and the pandemic. The City must commit to staffing these vital, effective programs while continuing to replenish the ranks of our ambulance Paramedics and EMTs.
CRITICAL NEEDS: STAFFING
TRAINING, RECRUITING & HIRING PERSONNEL TO MEET CITY GOALS TRAINING The SFFD’s Mission and Vision Statements were written to remind the public and its employees of the values placed on having a highly trained, professional, and diverse workforce. SFFD personnel are committed to protecting and saving the lives and property of the people of San Francisco from fires, natural disasters, and hazardous material incidents. Our Firefighters, Paramedics, and EMTs are only as good as their training and they should never be training in an emergency.
The fire department will need support from the City for training equipment and personnel to keep up with the demands of our specialized and technical rescue operations. The increased calls for rescues on the City’s cliffs, waterways, and the increased dangers posed by wildland fires throughout the state puts a larger burden on the Department’s training staff than ever before. It is only through continual instruction and development that we can keep our Firefighters, Paramedics, and the public safe from injury and disasters.
RECRUITING In 2018, Mayor Breed stated, “San Francisco’s diversity is one of our biggest strengths and our City’s workforce should reflect the numerous communities we serve.” In order to reach San Francisco communities who have not been traditionally well-represented in the fire service applicant pool and to hire the best candidates to join our ranks, our Department needs a dedicated Recruitment Unit. Recruitment efforts cannot be limited to a handful of people; a fully staffed Recruitment Unit would allow our members the
time and opportunity to engage with the youth and young adults of our City in hopes of setting them on a path towards becoming San Francisco Firefighters. SFFD Employee Groups have long supported this sentiment and have been advocating for a fully funded and staffed Recruitment Unit to build a stronger fire department.
ASSIGNMENT OFFICE The Assignment Office works under the Office of the Deputy Chief of Administration and is responsible for managing and maintaining the Fire Department’s staffing levels. They work seven days a week to balance the daily staffing levels in the Suppression, EMS, and Airport Divisions. The Assignment Office is also required to develop and publish an annual seniority list, balance the promotive ranks, and administer annual staffing vacancy and vacation bids. During any major incident and/or disaster, the Assignment Office is required to assume the role as Recall Operations and begin the tasks assigned to them per SFFD Disaster Operations protocols. In addition to their daily duties, the members of the Assignment Office also work collaboratively with the Department’s Physician’s Office, Human Resource Office, Behavioral Health Unit, and Homeland Security Chief to assure members are properly cared for. Those in the Assignment Office have continued to serve our membership tirelessly despite seeing their ranks shrink and their job duties increased. We need to maintain a fully staffed Assignment Office.
INVEST IN TRAINING, RECRUITING & PERSONNEL Now is not the time to waver in our support of the frontline Firefighters, Paramedics, and EMTs putting their lives and health on the line to serve their fellow citizens. The ranks of those retiring must be filled by new recruits, including San Franciscans from communities without a long tradition of fire service careers. Those new recruits must be highly trained to meet the new challenges facing our profession, including health emergencies like the pandemic, climate-driven wildfires, technical rescues, and the increased needs of a city population divided by wide income disparity. As we slowly recover from the coronavirus pandemic, it is more critical than ever to recognize the importance of a fully staffed, diverse, and qualified fire department to protect San Francisco from disaster.
CRITICAL NEEDS: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
FLEET & FACILITIES The SFFD responds to nearly 140,000 emergency calls for service each year with a fleet of vehicles that includes 44 Fire Engines, 20 Fire Trucks, more than 50 Ambulances, and various other specialized apparatus positioned throughout the city.
SAFETY STANDARDS The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the leading authority to set standards and guidelines for safety in the fire service. Their recommendations are accepted as the benchmark for the way that fire departments should operate as it pertains to staffing levels, training, personal protective equipment, engine and truck safety, and much more. According to the NFPA, all frontline (primary) fire apparatus, especially those operating in a busy, urban environment like San Francisco, should be replaced every 10 years for the safety of our Firefighters and the public that we serve.
AGING INFRASTRUCTURE Currently, the SFFD has more than a dozen frontline engines that are past this 10-year recommended date of replacement. This includes Engines 22, 25, 34, and 40, all of which are at least 20 years old. Several of the frontline trucks are also well past the 10-year NFPA standard, including Trucks 2, 12, and 13 that were all built in 1998, and Truck 14 from 1999. Other SFFD trucks are approaching the 20-year mark, including Truck 16 in the Marina and Truck 18 in the Outer Sunset District. The SFFD has not received a new truck in six years! Additionally, many of the SFFD specialized apparatus which include Hose Tenders, Attack Hose Tenders, 5-Inch Hose Tenders, the Utility-Light Unit, the Pollution Control Unit, and our Fireboats are also approaching or have eclipsed the 20-year mark and are in need of replacement. Even though the SFFD took delivery of the St. Francis Fireboat two years ago, the Guardian and the Phoenix Fireboats are 50 and 60 years old, respectively. In addition to our aging fleet, the infrastructure at our fire stations is old and crumbling. Only four of our fire stations have been built from the ground up within the last 10 years.
Juan Gomez Piña
Vic de Aranzeta
CRITICAL NEEDS: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
FLEET REPLACEMENT PLAN Our rank and file members must have a voice in maintaining an updated and realistic SFFD Fleet Replacement Plan to get the most out of our apparatuses and meet City goals, while still maintaining safety as our top priority. By replacing our older engines and trucks with newer ones we will be aligning ourselves with the City’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Not to mention that we are spending about the same amount per month to keep these older vehicles on the road as we would to purchase new ones. The replacement of as many of these rigs as possible should be a high priority: •
Truck 2 (Chinatown)
Truck 19 (Stonestown)
Truck 12 (Haight-Ashbury)
Truck 48 (Treasure Island)
Truck 13 (Financial District)
Engine 22 (Sunset District)
Truck 14 (Outer Richmond)
Engine 25 (Dog Patch)
Truck 16 (Marina District)
Engine 39 (Forest Hill)
Truck 18 (Outer Parkside)
SFFD Utility Unit
REPLACE AGING FLEET & INFRASTRUCTURE The SFFD is committed to keeping up with and participating in San Francisco’s pledge to reduce emissions. We need an updated Fleet Replacement Plan that can serve as a roadmap over the next decade to meet this ambitious goal and maintain safety standards. More urgently, action is required to replace several rigs that are more than 20 years old. They are a danger to our Firefighters and the public and they create a liability for the City.
TOP TEN BUSIEST COMPANIES COMPANY
CRITICAL NEEDS: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
TRAINING CURRENT TRAINING FACILITIES The Fire Department currently conducts trainings for both recruits and existing personnel at Treasure Island and a smaller complex in the Mission District. The facility at Treasure Island serves as the premier site for all department technical training, including Firefighter, EMT, and Paramedic academies. It also serves as the location for regular in-service and live-fire training simulations for all employees. Instructors provide routine classroom instruction, as well as specialized training for active shootings, confined space and trench rescue, roof ventilation, emergency vehicle extrication, wildland firefighting, and other specialized operations. The Mission District training facility consists of a single firefighter structure fire exercise site and limited classroom space.
SITE SCHEDULED TO CLOSE The Fire Department acquired the training facility on Treasure Island from the U.S. Navy, but it will soon be closed to make way for a development project on the island. The smaller training facility in the Mission District cannot serve the Department’s training needs on its own. Additionally, changes and advancements in industry standards, best practices, and state and federal training mandates have made it clear that our current facilities do not adequately address the training needs of our department. If a new state-of-the-art training facility is not built, the City will be left without a place for Firefighter, EMT and Paramedic recruit academies, as well as continuous in-service and specialized trainings.
A STATE-OF-THE-ART FACILITY IS VITAL A modern firefighter training facility will provide Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics with the routine training and advanced skills needed to safely and effectively protect people and property in San Francisco. The City’s unique environment of hills, narrow streets, diverse building types, population density, and waterways make it imperative that the new and enhanced training facility allows for cross-training and increased interoperability between the Fire Department and other San Francisco public safety agencies. In addition, regional partners could occasionally train at the facility, resulting in improved emergency response for the entire Bay Area. As it stands, the City and County of San Francisco currently plans to use most of the $275 million 2020 ESER bond money that was intended for the SFFD to pay for projects that would seismically upgrade firehouses and replace the Treasure Island Firefighter Academy; however, more funds will need to be secured in order to complete the replacement of a new training complex.
MODERNIZE TRAINING FACILITIES In order to close the financial gap, the City must find creative solutions and partnerships, like possibly teaming up with other public safety departments and/or San Francisco City College, to purchase land and construct a cutting-edge training facility that will serve the needs of the Department and residents now and for years to come. We can create a facility that could be used by surrounding departments and has the potential to create revenue to pay for itself.
FIRE OPS 101 In 2019, Local 798, in partnership with the SFFD, hosted FIRE OPS 101 for the first time in 20 years! Fire Ops is a program where Elected Officials participate in hands-on firefighting and rescue operations under the controlled supervision of professional Firefighters and Paramedics. This series of simulations demonstrated fire and emergency medical service operations, from suiting up in the proper protective gear to performing auto extrications and extinguishing fires. Each of the scenarios gave participants the opportunity to experience what our Firefighters and Paramedics face on a daily basis and see how challenging it is to keep our communities safe across San Francisco. Live simulations offer the chance to see, feel, and use the same equipment and protective gear that are vital to Firefighter safety while operating in similar controlled conditions that Firefighters and Paramedics are presented with while on the scene of an emergency. Participants donned turnouts and self-contained breathing apparatus, battled a live fire, and experienced a multi-casualty incident with auto extrication utilizing the Jaws of Life. In addition, they learned about how Crews provide advanced life support to a victim of a heart attack on a scene and while being transported in the back of an ambulance, observed a technical window rescue operation, and witnessed a live water rescue in real time.
CRITICAL NEEDS: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
MARINE UNIT WATER EMERGENCIES The SFFD covers 64 miles of jurisdiction, including 25 miles of coastline within the City and County of San Francisco. The SFFD is the lone Advanced Life Support (ALS) resource that is able to respond to medical emergencies on the San Francisco Bay with a Paramedic on the water. Currently, there are only two SFFD work locations, Stations 16 and 35, with watercraft capable of responding to emergencies from the coastline starting at Fort Funston all the way around the Cliff House, into the Bay, and as far south as Candlestick Park. If those Firefighters are busy fighting a fire or responding to other emergency calls on land, the SFFD watercraft goes unstaffed.
RAPID RESPONSE CRITICAL Both stations have different types of boats for responses. Station 16 in the Marina District is equipped with a fast response boat as well as jet skis, which are vital to emergencies off the Marina area, outside the Golden Gate Bridge, to Lands End and Ocean Beach. Station 35's fireboat is an excellent tool for fire suppression along the waterfront, but it's not designed for rapid response to water emergencies. Tom Fogle
NEW DEVELOPMENT Surf and cliff rescue calls have quadrupled in the last two years. In 2018 there were approximately 35 and in 2020, we had over 200! The need for a dedicated Marine Unit is urgent now that up to 40,000 new residents have started occupying districts like SOMA and Bayview and will soon be settling into the Hunters Point/Candlestick redevelopment projects. These developments will include a mix of apartments, townhomes, and condominiums with easy access to more open spaces on the water. This influx of tens of thousands of San Franciscans living in these neighborhoods should be provided with the same level of safety and protection that is given to other residents in the western and northern parts of the City. We need to plan now while these sites are still being developed.
FORM A DEDICATED MARINE UNIT Station 35 should be equipped with a faster boat in addition to a crew of at least four more Firefighters to focus solely on water rescues in the Bay. A dedicated SFFD Marine Unit will allow our Department to address the growing demand for marine rescue services in a timely, professional manner without pulling resources from other local SFFD Fire Stations. This Marine Unit would have the capability to perform ALS on the water, allowing for the same delivery of lifesaving services on both land and sea.
CRITICAL NEEDS: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
SURF & CLIFF RESCUES: 2020 HIGHLIGHTS EIGHT SURF RESCUES IN ONE DAY August 15 During a summer heatwave, San Francisco Firefighters performed eight surf rescues in one day. The rescues included three 17-year-old boys stuck in a rip current near Sutro Baths and required the use of a rescue boat, rescue watercraft (jet skis), and multiple rescue swimmers. SFFD
HIGH TIDE CLIFF RESCUE October 21 In the early morning hours, Firefighters responded to a person stranded on a cliff just above the waters of the Presidio near Battery Crosby. With high tide cutting off land access to the hiker and no safe route above him, the only option was for rescue swimmers to strap the hiker onto a surfboard, paddle the board through crashing surf, and deliver the hiker to a waiting rescue boat outside the surf line. The 30-year-old hiker suffered from hypothermia but was otherwise unharmed. SFFD
ISLAIS CREEK WATER RESCUE December 1 Firefighters responded to a person in the water in Islais Creek near the Third Street bridge. Upon arrival, a bystander reported that a young man had entered the water and appeared to be in distress and submerged. Members of the Rescue Squad dive team began free-diving in the zero-visibility water to locate the victim, while other team members prepared SCUBA dive gear. With the gear assembled, the divers located the submerged person in less than ten minutes and transported him to the emergency room where he later succumbed to his drowning injuries. SFFDBonetti Sean
2020 SPECIALIZED EQUIPMENT DISPATCHES FIRE BOAT (St. Francis & Phoenix) RESCUE BOAT (RB1 & RB2) SURF RESCUE (SR18 & SR34) RESCUE WATER CRAFT (RWC1 & RWC2) CLIFF RESCUE UNITS (CR14 & CR19)
239 205 186 163 66
AUXILIARY WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM CITY AT RISK San Francisco is one of the most vulnerable cities in the world to the risk of fire after an earthquake. After the 1906 earthquake, 28,000 buildings were destroyed and 3,000 people died. As a result of this disaster, the Auxiliary Water Supply System (AWSS) was built to provide a dedicated emergency firefighting water supply that could deliver water at pressures high enough to fight a heavy fire load.
ESER FUNDS While this AWSS infrastructure provides fire protection for disasters, it is antiquated and doesn’t reach every neighborhood in our ever-expanding city. The residents of San Francisco recognize this and have voted three times to provide bond money for upgrading and expanding the AWSS through the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response bond program (ESER). In the 2020 ESER Bond, over $153 million was approved by the voters to augment and expand the AWSS to the Richmond and Sunset and eventually to our southeastern neighborhoods. The immediate use of ESER funds will be to create a separate and SFFD distinct high-pressure system in the Richmond and Sunset Districts that provides a high-pressure emergency water supply and supplements our drinking water supply with a new, earthquake resilient pipe system. The ESER Bond will also provide additional manifolds for the SFFD fireboat to augment the system and explore the feasibility of building saltwater pump stations on the west side of San Francisco.
EXPAND & ENHANCE THE AWSS Currently, we have a water supply officer and Public Utilities Commission liaison working on these projects and we are also scheduled to receive three new Hose Tenders to deliver emergency water supplies while the AWSS is being expanded. More needs to be done, however, and the SFFD is assisting with studies to further build out the AWSS in the Bayview, Hunters Point and Excelsior Districts. Planning for our AWSS is being configured for 2030, 2040, and 2050 to meet the demands of an expanding San Francisco.
CRITICAL NEEDS: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
INCIDENT SUPPORT SPECIALIST ON SCENE SUPPORT The Incident Support Specialist (ISS) plays a critical role in some of the most significant emergency calls for service. The ISS reports to and provides vital support to the Battalion or Division Chief. They are responsible for tracking Firefighter staffing levels and ensuring that each unit in the field is appropriately covered for the day. The ISS also manages all details related to the movement of staff between stations, training schedules, and demographic coverage, including tracking apparatus that go out of service.
MONITORING & TRACKING During an emergency, the ISS assists the Chief by tracking all pertinent incident information, thereby allowing the Chief to focus their attention on the overall safety of our Fire Crews and the general public. Other critical duties while on scene are to monitor personnel, equipment, traffic needs from the SFFD, requests from PG&E and similar agencies, and provide radio traffic communication updates to the Dispatch Center. Battalion ISS go into the fire structure or adjoining buildings to serve as the "eyes of the Chief" from the outside. If in a high-rise building, the ISS stays in the fire control room, distributes radios, and monitors the building fire alarm panel. Their incident reports help to determine how the Chief proceeds in any given situation and/or if they will need additional resources.
Bay Area Firefighter
REPORTING REQUIREMENTS The ISS also helps to keep the Department in compliance with the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) requirements. These reports generate revenue for the Department, while an inaccurate or incomplete description can also result in a loss of funds as well as losses for civilians who could be reimbursed by their insurance company.
BUDGET CUTS In past years, the ISS position for Battalions 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 were cut in an effort to assist San Francisco during a financial downturn. These critical positions were cut to help the City in a downturned economy; however, these cuts were never intended to be permanent. As a result of these cuts, the unintended consequence is that now one Battalion Chief serves as the sole source left to monitor and provide the flow of information between him/herself, fire companies working on the scene, and multiple stakeholders, that may include Oakland Fire, the Dispatch Center, BART, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the CHP. The idea that one person is running a large-scale emergency via multiple radios while driving a car on the crowded and complex streets of San Francisco is an irresponsible risk to the public and to our members that we should not be undertaking.
RESTORE THE ISS POSITION The return of the ISS position to Battalions 3 and 7 is imperative and would fill a significant need. Battalion 3 covers the Mission Bay neighborhoods that have more than tripled in population and commercial density. South of Market and Mission Bay consist of multiple high-rise residential developments, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Oracle Park, and the new Chase Center, making the restoration of the ISS position essential for public safety. Battalion 7 is equally as important. During a surf or cliff rescue, the Chief on scene is required to keep communication flowing not only with several different companies, but also with multiple City agencies. An ISS would facilitate proper communication and personnel tracking to ensure that all radio traffic and the safety of the public is handled responsibly and efficiently.
CRITICAL NEEDS: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
NEIGHBORHOOD EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM On October 17, 1989, San Francisco experienced a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that tragically killed 67 people and caused more than $5 billion in damages. The aftermath prompted the formation of the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training program, which currently provides instruction in disaster and emergency response. Since 1990, Local 798 members have dedicated time to provide engaging, quality hands-on training to residents of San Francisco. The goal is to teach as many San Franciscans as possible some basic emergency skills that can make a difference in the lives of their families and others when they are affected by a disaster. Since its inception, the NERT program has trained more than 30,750 residents to be self-reliant in a major disaster.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH With the COVID-19 shutdown, in-person NERT training was suspended, but this did not stop our recertification of current NERT members to maintain their status. Classes were held outdoors with masks and face shields. We were also able to continue our Spanish language training, LISTOS, virtually. This allowed us to reach a population in our City most impacted by COVID-19 with all-hazards preparedness and featured presenters from the health community to talk about the virus and testing. NERT will resume full basic courses as soon as the Health Order allows. The pandemic has made apparent the high demand for this type of program as evidenced by the long waitlist of people wanting to get trained in lifesaving skills.
COVID-19 RESPONSE NERT volunteers continued to have a major impact in the response to COVID-19 in our City. Over 7,600 hours of volunteer time were devoted to the education of neighbors, food distribution, test site operations, and vaccination site staffing. Volunteers also made welfare checks on elderly residents and worked inside the Operation Center.
THE FUTURE OF NERT Curriculum has been created to teach NERT in San Francisco high schools. This educational instruction would empower students to be able to help their family members, especially non-English speaking relatives, during an emergency. This program will also serve as a great tool to assist the Department in recruiting young people into our respectable profession.
FUND NERT This pandemic has proven the value of training our residents as partners in preparedness and response. Multiple City departments, including DEM, SFDPH, the SFPUC, and HSA, continue to request the assistance of NERT volunteers to support their disaster response. NERT must be fully and sufficiently funded to train and equip City residents so they are prepared to meet the demands in the event of an emergency.
SUPPORTING OUR COMMUNITY
SAN FRANCISCO FIREFIGHTERS TOY PROGRAM Founded in 1949 by a handful of Firefighters, the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has evolved into the City's largest and the nation's oldest year-round toy program of its kind. Driven by Local 798 Firefighters, Toy Program volunteers, and businesses that donate their time and resources, each year the Toy Program distributes over 200,000 toys to disadvantaged Bay Area children. In addition to helping individual families in need, the Toy Program serves many community organizations, including shelters for abused women and children, inner-city schools, children’s cancer wards, and pediatric AIDS units. The Toy Program also responds on a year-round basis to displaced families who become victims of fires, floods, and other life-changing disasters.
IMPACT OF COVID With thousands of families applying for toys, there was a tremendous demand for donations; but like everything else in 2020, the toy collection and distribution looked a little different with COVID restrictions and precautions in place. Adapting to the circumstances, toy barrel placements were limited to Fire Stations, but donors were conveniently able to purchase items online and have them shipped directly to the Toy Program with contactless delivery. Local businesses that had previously hosted toy barrel collection events opted to participate in Virtual Toy Drives instead.
DISASTER RESPONSE: COVID-19 TOY DRIVE & LIGHTNING COMPLEX FIRE Always willing to rise to the occasion and respond to the immediate needs of Bay Area families, the Toy Program mobilized to assist those who have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus crisis. Dozens of volunteers distributed gift bags and groceries to struggling families in a special Toy Drive. Practicing safe social distancing guidelines, families from the Toy Program’s Christmas List lined up in their cars to receive donations as Firefighters and volunteers wearing masks and gloves lined the block holding signs with supportive messages. The bags contained arts and crafts, puzzles, and other toys to help keep kids entertained and occupied while their parents work from home or offer a little comfort to those who were laid off. The Toy Drive event was part of a larger campaign in which volunteers also delivered items directly to the homes of families in need.
The LNU Lightning Complex fires were a large complex of wildfires that burned 363,220 acres across much of the Wine Country area in Northern California from August 17 to October 2, 2020. The Toy Program took boxes of donated cleaning supplies to Western Ranch & Pet Supply in Vacaville for people impacted by the wildfire. With nearly 1,500 structures destroyed, many people lost their homes and smoke and ash covered the region. Western Ranch & Pet Supply generously setup a charitable operation for those in need to come secure supplies.
ETHNIC DOLL DRIVE The Toy Program believes that every child should have a doll that is reflective of their culture, values, and that inspires them to believe in themselves. In 2012, the Toy Program started a major campaign to ensure that dolls given to the community are reflective of the diverse population that the Firefighters serve throughout the City. In 2019, the Toy Program purchased doll clothing that represented occupations such as firefighters, police officers, doctors, and astronauts to inspire children to reach their highest potential. The Toy Program strives to ensure that everyone is included and represented in the toys and books that are available for distribution.
ANNUAL BICYCLE GIVEAWAY Each year, the Toy Program holds a letter-writing contest and receives several hundred heartfelt letters and hand drawn pictures from local children. The letters explain to Local 798 Firefighters why they should “Make Their Day.” Unfortunately, on November 24th, nearly 200 trikes were stolen from the Toy Program’s storage unit, totaling thousands of dollars in donations. San Francisco Firefighters, along with our extremely generous donors, stepped up once again to replace the stolen tricycles. Members bought, assembled, and delivered the new trikes, restoring the giving spirit to 400 lucky recipients.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT The Toy Program would not be possible without our incredibly generous sponsors and donors, including the San Francisco Bar Pilots Association, the St. Francis Yacht Club, Kings of Cali Motorcycle Club, San Francisco Laborers International Union Local 261, the Italian Community Services Auxiliary, SC Johnson, Puzzle HR, and Caffé Trieste, just to name a few. Local 798 also thanks all of the amazing staff and volunteers who dedicate countless hours and continue to make the Toy Program a resounding success, including SF Firefighters Toy Chairperson Sally Casazza, Special Events Coordinator Jill Peeler, and Local 798 Vice President Danny Gracia.
TRIBUTE Marion Emily "DeeDee" Jacobs June 3, 1948 – December 15, 2020
Local 798 is deeply saddened by the passing of DeeDee Jacobs on December 15, 2020. As the Toy Barrel Coordinator for the SF Firefighters Toy Program for numerous years, DeeDee worked hard to bring joy to local children in need and will always hold a special place in our hearts.
SUPPORTING OUR COMMUNITY
SAN FRANCISCO FIREFIGHTERS CANCER PREVENTION FOUNDATION The San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation (SFFCPF), founded in 2006 by Tony Stefani, is committed to the prevention and early detection of cancer and providing access to cutting-edge care for active and retired members of the SFFD and their families. The goals of the Foundation are based on scientific research, education, cancer screenings, and health navigation. Through this research and advocacy, the SFFCPF aims to improve public health and end the threat of job-related cancer in the firefighting profession. Firefighters are at a significantly greater risk than the general public of developing certain cancers and more than 300 San Francisco Firefighters have died from various types of this disease since the SFFCPF was founded. This volunteer-based nonprofit has grown to become a leading organization for the early detection, treatment, and support of Firefighters with cancer. The Foundation educates Firefighters on cancer risks they face, provides free cancer screenings, and assists families in the first steps post-diagnosis. The SFFCPF has also been directly involved in legislation and advocacy efforts, including implementing Cancer Presumption legislation, overhauling the Toxic Substances Control Act, and banning flame retardant chemicals.
AWARENESS, EXPANSION & PREVENTION BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and throughout this time, United Fire Service Women helps raise awareness and funds through t-shirt sales to fight breast cancer. All of the proceeds raised are donated to charity, including the SFFCPF and Bay Area Young Survivors. Approximately 16% of the Department’s Firefighters are women; and of that number, 15% of female Firefighters between ages 40 and 50 years old have been diagnosed with breast cancer, which is six times the national average.
In September of 2020, the Foundation announced with great enthusiasm the expansion of the health navigation program to serve Firefighters with cancer outside of San Francisco to several Bay Area Departments. All active and retired members of the fire service in District 4 & 5 of the California Professional Fire Fighters (CPF), extending from Sonoma to San Jose, are eligible for health navigation and financial assistance. This is a pilot program made possible by generous supporters which the Foundation hopes to expand over time to more of California.
EXPANSION OF HEALTH NAVIGATION SERVICES
IMPORTANT CANCER PREVENTION RESOLUTIONS
Since its founding in 2006, the SFFCPF has provided health navigation services to the active and retired members of the SFFD in their battles with cancer. These services include financial assistance with second opinions, genomic testing, and travel assistance when necessary for treatment.
Delegates at the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) 55th Convention voted overwhelmingly in favor of Resolutions to protect members from toxic Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in personal protective equipment (PPE) and to end sponsorships from manufacturers that use these substances.
SFFCPF FUNDED RESEARCH & COLLABORATIONS IN PROGRESS 2021 PFAS-FREE TURNOUT BIO-MONITORING STUDY WITH STANFORD SFFCPF and Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University have partnered together to study prototype PFAS-free turnouts. Manufacturers are claiming these newly designed and manufactured turnouts are PFAS-free and will evaluate durability and comfortability. However, this study will determine what, if any, other biologically harmful chemicals/metals are used as a replacement for PFAS and how much is absorbed in the human body at specific timepoints. The study is designed to sample the actual material used in both the current SFFD and PFAS-free turnouts, as well as biologically monitoring SFFD participants for PFAS and metals through blood, urine and skin tape samples. Although this is a preliminary study, we are hoping to gain enough information to expand the study design or focus on a particular aspect of the new PFAS-free turnouts in order to gain more data for targeted studies. We began sampling March 2021.
2020 STANFORD ACTIVE FIREFIGHTER HOME KIT ACUTE EXPOSURE STUDY In August 2020, SFFCPF agreed to collaborate in a study of active SFFD Firefighters exposed to smoke while fighting urban setting fires and/or wildfires while deployed on strike teams. Through simple in-home micro-sampling, the study will create a list of potential biomarkers both pre- and postsmoke exposure that can be used for general Firefighters’ risks. The goal is to improve screenings for cancer, along with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Our San Francisco delegation spoke in favor and acknowledged fellow SFFCPF Director Matt Alba as one of the driving forces behind our local PFAS research. SFFCPF has recently designed and approved funding of a bio-monitoring study with Stanford to test five PPE vendors’ PFAS-free prototypes. Resolution 28 calls on the IAFF to no longer accept sponsorships from the chemical industry, textile manufacturers or PPE manufacturers that use toxic chemicals in PPE; recommends an end to the practice of repurposing used or expired PPE; and calls on the IAFF to publish information on PFAS based on research by independent scientists with no connections to the PPE industry. Resolution 31 calls on the IAFF to actively oppose the use of PFAS in turnout gear and to seek independent testing of PPE currently available to determine levels of PFAS and the ability of the chemicals to penetrate skin; calls on the IAFF to seek cooperation with manufacturers to immediately cease the use of PPE containing PFAS; and urges the IAFF to apply for a federal grant to study the negative health effects of PFAS in PPE.
2020 STANFORD RETIRED FIREFIGHTER WILDFIRE AND HEALTH STUDY SFFCPF partnered with Stanford University’s Study of Retired San Francisco Firefighters investigating shortterm and long-term health impacts of exposure to California wildfire smoke.
2018 CAMP FIRE FIREFIGHTER BIOMONITORING STUDY SFFCPF commissioned the Camp Fire Study following the Paradise, CA Wildland Fire in partnership with Commonweal. 80 Firefighters responding from regional departments were sampled immediately post-deployment. The biospecimens were tested for chemical toxicants, including heavy metals, flame retardants, stain and water repellent substances, PAHs and PFAS likely encountered on the fire ground. Chemical Body Burden Levels were released to each Firefighter participant as they became available. On August 22, 2020, the aggregate study results were released indicating that immediately post-fire, Firefighters were carrying in their bodies a mixture of these chemical toxicants at levels higher than those found in the general U.S. population. The majority of these chemicals are considered to be carcinogens, many of them associated with cardiovascular, reproductive, kidney and liver dysfunction. Of special concern is the exposure to PFAS, some of which are immune-suppressors that damage the body’s capacity to protect against disease. This study was funded by SFFCPF with contributions from the IAFF.
SAN FRANCISCO FIREFIGHTERS International Association of Fire Fighters Local 798
Executive Board Shon Buford Danny Gracia
Floyd Rollins II
In loving memory of Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Cortez The San Francisco Fire Department and San Francisco Firefighters, IAFF Local 798 mourn the loss of Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Cortez, who tragically passed away after sustaining injuries from a training accident that occurred at the drill tower on October 7, 2020. A private memorial service was held at Oracle Park on October 20th where his family was presented with a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol in his honor. A procession of police and firefighters escorted Cortez's body to Saint Ignatius Church for a Vigil the night before his Funeral Service. Brother Cortez, a 13-year veteran of the SFFD, is survived by his wife Patricia, and sons Jackson and Greyson. He is also survived by his mother Sonya, his father Gil and wife Nellie, his brother Greg, and extended family.
San Francisco Firefighters Local 798 is honored to present “Road to Recovery: Invest in Your Safety.” 2020 was an unprecedented year that wa...
Published on May 15, 2021
San Francisco Firefighters Local 798 is honored to present “Road to Recovery: Invest in Your Safety.” 2020 was an unprecedented year that wa...