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Emergency Firefighting Water System

Seismic reliability. Delivery reliability. Firefighting Water System reliability.

AWSS In ActionEmergency Firefighting Water System 

As part of the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond that was passed by voters in June 2010 that will seismically upgrade the City’s Emergency Firefighting Water Supply System, neighborhood fire stations and construct a new public safety building, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) will be seismically upgrading the City's Emergency Firefighting Water System (also known as the Auxiliary Water Supply System or AWSS).

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Following an earthquake, the San Francisco Emergency Firefighting Water System is vital for protecting against the loss of life, as well as the loss of homes and businesses by providing an additional layer of fire protection, in addition to the domestic water system, in the event of a major earthquake. The system is also used throughout the year for the suppression of multiple-alarm fires. The system delivers water at high pressure and includes two pump stations, two storage tanks, one reservoir, and approximately 135 miles of pipes and 150 functional cisterns. Additionally, the system includes 52 suction connections along the northeastern waterfront, which allow fire engines to pump water from San Francisco Bay, and two fireboats that supply seawater by pumping into any of the five manifolds connected to pipes. The system also includes approximately 200 cisterns, 1,600 hydrants and 3,900 valves.

A reliable firefighting water supply system is crucial to the safety and quality of life of all San Franciscans. That’s why the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission assumed responsibility of the system in June 2011 and is steadily moving forward with plans to make long-lasting seismic and operational improvements to the aging system. The proposed/planned improvements will maintain sufficient water delivery capacity to respond to emergencies at all times and provide an added layer of fire protection against loss of life, homes and businesses in the event of a major earthquake.

The program to upgrade is funded by the $412 million Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond passed by 79 percent of San Francisco voters in June 2010. Projects funded by the bond include the seismic upgrade of the City’s Emergency Firefighting Water Supply System, upgrades to neighborhood fire stations and construction of a new public safety building.


The planning, design, and construction schedule is currently being developed.

Emergency Firefighting Water System Budget
Projects and Programs Cost (millions)
Core Facilities $34.4
Cisterns $36.0
Pipelines and Tunnels $32.0
Total $102.4

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Last updated: 7/17/2014 9:48:27 AM