San Francisco Supervisor Connie Chan this week introduced a package of legislation in efforts to improve fire safety and disaster response in the city.

During the Sept. 5 Board of Supervisors’ meeting, Chan, who represents the Richmond District, said the city can do more to increase emergency preparedness and response efforts.

Chan said she worked with San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu to create a set of ordinances that would amend the San Francisco fire code to improve the sprinkler system inspection process.

If passed, the city’s five-year inspection process would require permit filing and additional training and licensing. Her ordinances would also mandate sprinkler systems for new accessory dwelling units and require a minimum of five feet of fire safety access from the public way to a divided lot.

Chan said these amendments to the fire code could improve fire safety and increase the fire department’s capacity.

Homes in Lahaina, Maui, lie in ruins on Aug. 15, 2023, following Hawaii’s most deadly fire in years. (State Farm/Flickr, CC BY)

“San Francisco can learn much from the devastating fire disaster in Maui and the failure of preparation and emergency warning systems,” said Chan. “The westside — including the Richmond District — is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters like tsunamis. Additionally, the recent apartment fires remind us that we must do better to ensure we are prepared and can adequately respond to emergencies, especially as our City is mandated by the State to build denser housing.”

Chan’s legislation package also would submit a letter of inquiry to the Department of Emergency Management to demand a detailed plan about when the city’s emergency siren system will be restored. The system was taken offline in 2019 for security upgrades and initially planned to be restored by 2021, she said.

“When I first took office, I asked about the restoration process of the sirens, but four years later, we’re still waiting for that answer,” Chan said. “I really hope that now with the Mayor having her experience in Maui, that we now finally have the funding for it.”

Chan has also scheduled a public hearing to discuss the implementation of the Emergency Firefighting Water System, which would serve as an extra safeguard for fire protection in the event of a major earthquake. She is demanding that the system will also include emergency response to the Richmond District.