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Report on the Operations
of the San Francisco Fire Department
Following the Earthquake and Fire of October 17, 1989

Frederick F. Postel, Chief of Department

Compiled and Edited by Dave Fowler

October 17, 1990

This is the first major report on suppression operations of the San Francisco Fire Department since the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906.

Some of the changes made in the Department's structure after that disaster are still with us, including the current battalion system, the design and use of the Auxiliary Water Supply System, the continued use of street cisterns and certain Charter requirements which guide the operations of the San Francisco Fire Department.

The Department of 1989 was far better prepared for disaster than the Department of 1906. In the Great Earthquake and Fire, stations were damaged and personnel killed, the entire dispatch system was destroyed and many pieces of apparatus were so badly damaged as to be useless. That didn't happen to the San Francisco Fire Department during the October 17, 1989, earthquake because of years of training and preparation.

This report encompasses the operations of the San Francisco Fire Department and outlines the conditions under which the men and women of this Department operated during the first hours following the October 17 earthquake.

The report also includes an extensive review of operations and systems within the Department that was drawn up after consultation with citizens of San Francisco, chief officers and the dedicated men and women of the Department.

There are also recommendations that should be implemented while planning the future of the Department and in preparation for the next earthquake.

Frederick F. Postel
Chief of Department

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