Fire Commission - November 5, 2015 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
November 5, 2015 - 4:00pm





NOVEMBER 5, 2015 – 4:00 p.m.

698 Second Street, Room 102

The audio file has been uploaded onto the Fire Commission Website at:


President Andrea Evans called the meeting to order at 4:07 PM


1.         ROLL CALL

Commission President

Andrea Evans


Commission Vice President

Francee Covington



Stephen Nakajo



Michael Hardeman



Ken Cleaveland





Chief of Department

Joanne Hayes-White



Mark Gonzales

Deputy Chief – Operations

Ray Guzman

Deputy Chief – Administration


Ken Lombardi

Support Services

Dan De Cossio

Bureau of Fire Prevention

Assistant Chiefs


Bob Postel

Division 2

Dave Franklin

Division 3





Clement Yeh

EMS Medical Director

Mark Corso




There was no public comment.


3.         APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES [Discussion and possible action]

Discussion and possible action to approve meeting minutes.


Minutes from Special Meeting on October 21, 2015


Commissioner Hardeman moved to approve the Minutes.  Vice President Covington seconded.  Motion to Adopt Minutes was unanimous.


There was no public comment.



Update from Assistant Deputy Chief Ken Lombardi on the Transportation Advisory Board Meetings/Vision Zero


Assistant Deputy Chief Ken Lombardi’s presentation is attached: Presentation on the Transportation Advisory Board meetings.pdf


Commissioner Nakajo thanked Chief Lombardi for his comprehensive presentation.  He asked Chief Lombardi how they plan on working on the various issues the Department faces.  Chief Lombardi replied that they are trying to resolve some of the issues such as the planter boxes, bike lanes with rails and bulb outs interfering with suppression through a newly formed task force.  Originally, when they were looking at the plans on paper, it was hard to visualize.  You did not realize the impact until the project was completed.  Therefore, the original templates were not accurate, and did not reflect the correct size of the vehicles.  He added that they now have new templates.  He continued by giving examples of other obstacles they face such as street designs that have firetrucks making turns into oncoming traffic, and causing traffic to be congested and unable to get out of the way of emergency vehicles.  Commissioner Nakajo appreciated the examples set forth by Chief Lombardi and stated that he is interested in applying influence and change with the folks that can make it happen.  He suggested educating the individuals who are the policy makers on these issues and letting them know the Department’s considerations have not been met.  Chief Lombardi added that they are trying to make changes within the fire code that would give the Department more power to straighten out some of the issues mentioned.


Vice President Covington thanked Chief Lombardi for his presentation and acknowledged sitting in on some of the Task Force meetings.  She has also met with members of the Bicycle Coalition.  She added that we are living in a city where many people feel that cars are evil as well as the people that drive them.  She feels that it is a concerted effort to reduce the number of cars on the street and its gaining traction, and it is not improving the ability for the members of the Department to get to where they are desperately needed, in a timely fashion.  She suggested figuring out a way to get the word out about how this is impeding on the ability of the members to do what they need to do and she added that as Commissioners, they should speak out.  She stated that the feeling at City Hall seems to be that the MTA is in charge of the streets and that cannot continue because the decisions they are making are not good for the citizens of the City and County of San Francisco when it comes to responding to emergencies.  She added that she would like the Commission to keep a sharp eye out on this issue and to come up with a way to counter some of these measures.


Chief Hayes-White commented that about three years ago, when the Department first got involved, the Fire Department had been perceived as sort of the anti-walk and bike movement.  She added that it was never really about that, and the Department has always said it is a shared responsibility and our position is to have a unified voice, with the Commission and Local 798, who has made a decision to weigh in.  She further stated that it has been a tough week, as three children were struck by motor vehicles, causing significant injuries.  She acknowledged the great job done by Chief Lombardi, Chief DeCossio and former Chief Wong for getting in on the design plan discussions early, so the Department is not perceived as disrupting the plan.


Commissioner Hardeman acknowledged that mistakes have been made with street designs, and he agreed with Commissioner Covington that now is the time for the Commissioners to speak up.  He does not understand why the Bike Coalition would want designs that impede in the response times of the Department responding to emergencies and perhaps, saving someone’s life.  Chief Hayes White added that they have recently gotten support from the Bike Coalition and Walk SF, who they meet with regularly.  They have acknowledged and appreciate the work that Support Services and Captain Rivera are doing concerning language that has been added into the vehicle specifications. They are listening to our concerns and are supporting our efforts to get the fleet turned around in a more efficient fashion.


President Evans stated that she thinks it is a good idea to make road designs temporary to start with, to give drivers and pedestrians an opportunity to adjust to them before making them permanent.


There was brief discussion on the fire code and Fire Marshal DeCossio stated that they would start to revisit the new model codes of next cycle beginning in January.  They then have six months to submit amendments for approval through the Commission and the Board of Supervisors and the approved codes would go into effect in 2017.  President Evans suggested it would be a good time to reach out to the BOS.  She added that it is an opportunity to go back and explain the results of some of the work that has been done, and how it is currently affecting Department operations.  It is an opportunity for the Commission to reach out to the Supervisors and let them know why we are going to be recommending changes to the fire code.  She added that we should inform them with about specific street design initiatives that are negatively impacting the Department and suggest that they slow down and take a look at some of the concerns.  President Evans also mentioned that members of the public need to contact their Supervisors and express their concerns.


Commissioner Nakajo also suggested that the Department become part of the process on the transportation issues as it might make the Department less reactionary.  He asked for clarification on the interpretation that the City Attorney’s Office is working on.  Fire Marshal DeCossio explained that if we do not have the support of the Board of Supervisors on the fire code amendments, we could lose it.  Commissioner Nakajo concluded by thanking Chief Lombardi for his presentation and the time he spent on it.


5.         CHIEF OF DEPARTMENT’S REPORT [Discussion]


Report on current issues, activities and events within the Department, including Fiscal Year 2015-2016 budget.


Chief Hayes-White Chief Hayes-White’s report covered the period since the last meeting on October 21, 2015.  She announced that the budget for 2014-2015 has been closed out, and she thanked Mark Corso for work on that.


Chief Hayes-White stated that they have received nine applications for the EMS 6 position and that Dr. Yeh and Assistant Deputy Chief Myers or Section Chief Molloy will be conducting interviews, as well as someone from the Department of Public Health to make two selections for those positions.  She stated that they have advertised for the recruitment coordinator and they have received applications from four interested H-2’s and they will be conducting interviews for that position in the near future.  She touched on the 118th academy class that will graduate on December 18, 2015.  She mentioned that they are ramping up for the 119th academy, which will begin on January 19, 2016 and be comprised of 54 recruits.


Chief Hayes-White expressed her appreciation of support and attendance at City Hall on October 22, 2015, where they were gifted the Broderick Fire Pumper from Fireman’s Fund, which has been acquired by Allianz.


Chief Hayes-White touched on the recent Strategic Planning Committee meeting, the 150th Anniversary Steering Committee meeting and the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation event.  She acknowledged the Black Firefighters Association who did the cooking for the participants of that event.  Chief Hayes-White also announced that there would be a meritorious awards ceremony on December 8, 2015 at 6:00 pm, at Riordan High School.


President Evans asked for clarification regarding the 16 offers that have been made to recruits for the academy class scheduled for January.  Chief Hayes-White replied that those offers have been extended to 12 members from Station 49, and 4 who were held over from the last process. The remaining make-up of the class will be off the current list of those that have tested through September 2015.



Report on overall field operations, the Bureau of Fire Prevention & Investigation, Airport Division.


Chief Gonzales reported on the month of October.


Chief Gonzales described the one greater alarm, a third alarm at 425 2nd Avenue.  He stated that Assistant Chief Taylor was the incident commander and he did a good job as did Battalion Chiefs’ Hickey and Pumphrey.  He added that Assistant Chief Siragusa called him this morning to say how proud he was of the members of the Department who were at that fire and they all did an excellent job.


Chief Gonzales stated that with regards to the H-8’s, they are currently interviewing applicants.


He touched on Station 49 and thanked Chief Lombardi for all the work he has been doing on that project and announced that the classroom at Station 49 has been completed.  Chief Gonzales stated that Paramedic Ybarra is working on the ambulance modularization and is developing a system that would allow for the Vehicle Service Technicians to pre-pack ambulance stock for rapid replacement.


Chief Gonzales gave a quick synopsis on Bureau of Fire Prevention and Bureau of Fire Investigations.  He stated there were 509 permits processed for the month of October and 50 high-rise inspections completed.  He touched briefly on the ABC 7 Save A Life campaign press event where the goal is to deliver a message on the importance of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.  Concerning Plan Check backlogs, he stated there are about 112 applications waiting for review.  He touched on many of the development projects they are working on.


Chief Gonzales announced the holiday tree lighting at Pier 39 is scheduled for November 21, 2015 and he touched on the status of the Bureau of Fire Investigation reports backlog.  He stated that the backlog has been reported inaccurately, explained how the process works, and gave an overview of the correct figures of the remaining reports waiting for supervisory review.  (Attached as Exhibit A is the backlog report)


Chief Gonzales briefly touched on the Bureau of Communications and San Francisco International Airport.


Commissioner Nakajo asked for more details concerning the permit backlog.  Chief DeCossio gave a detailed description of the process, which included the type of building they are dealing with as well as the type of work being done and how detailed the permit is.  He further explained that he is working on trying to get a system that will reflect the data more accurately so you get a better understanding of what the numbers actually mean.  There was also discussion pertaining to the backlog of fire investigation reports and how that process works.  Chief Gonzales touched briefly on the schedules of members of Station 49 and the agreement they are trying to finalize between DHR, the Administration and Local 798.  Commissioner Nakajo asked for clarification on the new firehouses being built at the Airport.  Chief Hayes-White explained that because SFO is expanding one of the runways, Station 3 has to be torn down and rebuilt.  They don’t want to run in to the same problems they had with the original design of Station 16, where they had the individual bedroom concept but the members wanted the old style dormitory, with separate locker rooms and men’s and women’s shower facilities.  She added that they have decided to come up with a template so that all firehouses will be designed the same way in the future.  Chief Gonzales added that they are striving for consistency.


Vice President Covington asked for clarification on the 960 program.  Chief Gonzales explained that it is when a member retires; they can come back and work for the Department as long as they do not work more than 960 hours a year.  Vice President Covington stated it would be a good idea to test the waters and have a conversation about the 960 program, as it might be an option for combatting the backlog in Arson.  Chief Hayes-White responded by saying that Local 798 was adamantly opposed to the 960 program.  She believes the opposition stems from a lack of opportunity or potentially reducing overtime opportunities for their current members.


President Evans announced that she has asked for the information regarding the Arson Unit, given the recent press reports, and she wants to make sure there is an opportunity to discuss what is going on with that Unit, and what they can expect to happen in the future.  She also asked what the Department’s practice has been in the past when someone leaves the Arson Unit and they have not completed their arson report.  Chief Hayes-White stated that historically, it would be reassigned to another investigator. If it were nearing completion, the supervisor would complete it and do the final review to close it out.  President Evans suggested that going forward; members should be required to close out their cases before they are reassigned.


There was brief discussion on current response times.  (Attached as Exhibit B are the Monthly Responses to Medical Calls through 11/1/2015)



Communications to Commission received between 10/19/15 and 10/30/15.


Email from Marianne J. Bennett Budin dated 10/23/15 and 10/26/15
Email from Tom O’Connor dated 10/28/15


Discussion regarding agenda for the November 19, 2015 regular meeting.


Presentation from Surf Rescue Committee
Update on plans for Super Bowl 50


8.         ADJOURNMENT


President Evans adjourned the meeting at 6:15 pm.


File exhibit a.docx

File exhibit b.docx