By Matt Nauman
SAN FRANCISCO – At an emergency-preparedness event Friday (Oct. 12), Supervisor David Chiu referenced the problems that New Orleans had in dealing with and recovering from Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding.
“They didn’t have existing partnerships,” he said.
Those partnerships, and the planning and practice that goes into preparing for emergencies and natural disasters was the motivation for the sixth annual PIERSafe Drill and Safety Expo held at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Residents and businesses from that neighborhood were joined by agencies such as the San Francisco Fire Department as well as the American Red Cross and PG&E at the event. The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management and the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) also participated.
The PIER in PIERSafe stands for Partners in Emergency Readiness. The event included an explanation and demonstration of the Incident Command System that is used to deal with an emergency. PG&E gas and electric workers demonstrated proper safety techniques and shared advice on how the public can be safe. And the Fire Department demonstrated how it rescues someone trapped in a building that has been damaged by an earthquake.
Troy Campbell, executive director of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District, said his group works all year in anticipation of the PIERSafe event.
Fisherman’s Wharf has 3,000 hotel rooms and lots of tourists. And the nearby Marina District was heavily damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
“You don’t think about natural disasters when you’re on vacation,” he said.
So, business owners and residents need the types of skills demonstrated at Friday’s event to be able to help themselves and the city’s visitors when another large earthquake strikes.
PG&E’s Gerry Kohlmann, a senior public safety specialist, was joined by utility electric workers and gas workers who used tools and props and a demonstration board to share safety tips. (See a Currents video on PG&E’s electric-safety demo board.) They fielded questions from the audience after the demonstration.
Among Kohlmann’s safety suggestions:
- Electric safety: Treat all wires as energized and stay away from a down wire.
- Gas safety: If you suspect there is a gas leak, leave the area and call 911 or PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
- Call before you dig: Call 811 two working days before digging, whether you are planting a tree, installing a fence, or grinding a stump.
PG&E also brought its new, 39-foot long Mobile Command Center Vehicle and offered tours. With high-tech communication equipment, multiple work stations, satellite televisions and other equipment, the vehicle is used during emergencies and major events.
PG&E is about to start a pipeline replacement project in the area, said Vitaly Tyurin, a customer relationship manager in San Francisco.
The company has been conducting outreach in the area, Tyurin said, and he spoke about the work at the PIERSafe event. The project will take place on Jefferson between Jones and Leavenworth and take from four to six weeks to complete.
“We worked and coordinated with the business community in the area, the Port of San Francisco and the City Department of Public Works to shift the start date from early September to mid-October in order to avoid business disruption for our customers and help accommodate the busy season in the area,” Tyurin said.
The work will be done at night to have the least impact as possible on the neighborhood.
That upcoming work made participating in the PIERSafe event especially important for PG&E, Tyurin said.
About 150 people were expected to attend the PIERSafe event.
Email Matt Nauman at email@example.com.