Fire safety and suppression

As a water agency and natural resource steward, EBMUD is an active proponent of fire safety. As California wildfires increase in frequency, size and severity, the threat to water quality, watershed lands and critical infrastructure grows as well. EBMUD employs strategies and emergency plans to minimize the impacts of destructive fires. 

Oakland Firestorm 

Following the devastating Oakland firestorm in 1991, EBMUD worked with other agencies to reduce the likelihood of a similar fire breaking out the in the future as part of the Hills Emergency Forum. The Hills Emergency Forum continues to work on collecting, assessing and sharing information on East Bay hills fire hazards and providing a forum for building inter-agency consensus on the development of fire safety standards and codes, incident response and management protocols, public education programs, multi jurisdictional training, and fuel reduction strategies. The District also organizes an annual meeting of all the fire agencies in EBMUD's service area to deliberate on current issues in our water distribution system that may affect water supply for firefighting purposes. 

Fire hydrants 

The EBMUD water distribution system is designed to meet normal residential and commercial water demands and fire flow requirements. The District owns and maintains over 29,000 fire hydrants throughout the service area. Fire hydrants are installed, tested, removed, and relocated in coordination with local fire agencies. 

The primary purpose of a fire hydrant is fire suppression.

However, hydrants also serve other useful functions such as testing the distribution system’s flow capabilities and for system flushing. They also provide a means for filling street sweepers and water trucks. This water is provided through a hydrant meter. Although each of these functions might be of great importance to certain individuals or groups, the primary purpose, fire suppression, is paramount. 

Watershed management  

EBMUD manages more than 57,000 acres of open space in the East Bay and in the Sierra Foothills, and we continuously work to make that land more resistant to fires. We build fire breaks, remove highly flammable vegetation and partner with fire departments to conduct controlled burns. 

Vegetation management 

In preparation for the fire season, vegetation management and weed abatement activities occur around our facilities and along our rights-of-way.  

Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) 

During periods of high fire danger, PG&E may turn off power to sections of Northern California in the interest of public safety. The outages, called Public Safety Power Shutoffs – or PSPS – could affect all power customers, including EBMUD. Learn how EBMUD is planning for a widespread emergency power outage. 

Community efforts 

Customers can take action by reducing fire hazards around the home and preparing for emergencies. Some in our community have informally “adopted a hydrant” in their neighborhood and take responsibility to clear a path approximately three feet around the hydrant as well as clear a path from the street or roadway up to the fire hydrant so that the hydrant is visible and accessible.