San Francisco city officials turned out en masse today to mark the coming 104th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and fire, and called for repairs and upgrades to the city’s aging emergency infrastructure.
The event, held in front of one of the San Francisco Fire Department’s pump stations at Aquatic Park, was billed as a commemoration of the victims of the fire, but officials took the opportunity to call for voters to support a $412 million earthquake safety measure on the June 8 city ballot.
“Even though this is not a campaign event–I’m breaking the rules,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom, “Get out and vote in June.”
The bond would allocate funds for a new police headquarters at Mission Bay, seismic upgrades to fire stations and seismic retrofits to the city’s firefighting water supply system, including the department’s two pump stations, which can pump water from San Francisco Bay in minutes to refill the Twin Peaks reservoir used to fight fires. Other improvements would be made to fire department water cisterns throughout the city.
Newsom, fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Police Chief George Gascon and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu all spoke at the event.
Some cited projections San Francisco will likely experience another major earthquake in the next 30 years, others the need for “shared responsibility” between the city and residents.
The April 18, 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires claimed about 3,000 lives and destroyed much of San Francisco.
Much of the existing firefighting infrastructure in the city was built in the years following the quake, and was considered state of the art at the time, officials said.
“But we know, 100 years later, this system is crumbling,” Chiu said.