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Disaster Preparedness


The Petaluma Fire Department continues to have the major responsibility of preparing the City of Petaluma for disasters and has provided disaster preparedness information and training to all City departments, schools and citizens groups that request assistance. The Fire Department is the main contact and conduit for Emergency Management information to other city, county and state agencies. The Department provides representatives to the Office of Emergency Services Coordinators. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated during extraordinary emergencies and disasters. The Emergency Staff is made up of City personnel who act as Section Chiefs and are supported by City staff. The primary duties are to plan and coordinate all response and recovery operations utilizing the Incident Command System.


The City of Petaluma has activated the Emergency Operations Center numerous times in response to severe winter storms, local flooding, and during wildfire evacuations/sheltering. The City coordinates with the Sonoma County Operational Area, exchanging information regarding areas of the City that are affected.


The City of Petaluma is highly encouraging residents to be prepared and to encourage their neighbors to do the same. Please review the content below for tips on what you need to do to be prepared for when disaster strikes. The Fire Department hosts quarterly COPE (Citizens Organized to Prepare for Emergencies) presentations. In these sessions we educate those that attend on how to prepare your home, what you should have in your emergency supply kit, what to do when the disaster strikes, and how to organize your neighborhood.

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COPE (Citizens Organized to Prepare for Emergencies)
Disaster Pack

The first 72 hours after a disaster are critical. You should be prepared to be self-sufficient (able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, telephones and assistance from safety services) for at least three days following a disaster. You should have three disaster packs, one for your home, work and car.

  • Food
    Enough for 72 hours, preferably one week, for every person in your family. Don't forget about food for your pets.
  • Water
    Enough so each person has a gallon a day for 72 hours, preferably one week. Store in airtight containers and replace it every six months. Store disinfectants such as iodine tablets or chlorine bleach (eight drops per gallon) to purify water if necessary.
  • First Aid Kit
    Make sure it's well-stocked, especially with bandages and disinfectants.
  • Fire Extinguisher
    Your fire extinguisher should be suitable for all types of fires. Teach all family members how to use it. If you are not sure on how to use it, contact the Petaluma Fire Department.
  • Flashlights with Extra Batteries
    Keep flashlights beside your bed and in several other locations. DO NOT use matches or candles after an earthquake until you are certain there are no gas leaks.
  • Portable Radio with Extra Batteries
    Most telephones will be out of order or limited to emergency use. The radio will be your best source of information.
  • Extra Blankets, Clothing, Shoes and Money
    Place extra blankets for warmth, change of clothing as well as a change of shoes in your disaster pack. The banks as well as the Automatic Teller Machines will not be operable. Keep some extra disaster money stashed in a safe place for emergency use only.
  • Alternate Cooking Source
    Store a barbecue or camping stove for outdoor camping. CAUTION: Ensure there are no gas leaks before you use any kind of fire. Do not use charcoal indoors.
  • Special Items
    Have at least one week's supply of medication and food for infants and those with special needs.
  • Tools
    Have an adjustable or pipe wrench for turning off gas and water. Keep this tool either in disaster pack or near the gas and water turnoff valve.


Earthquakes, Floods, Emergency Checklist, and Coping in a Disaster
Are You Prepared?

There are many different kinds of disasters. Earthquakes, floods, fires, airplane crashes, chemical spills, pipeline leaks and others, small and large, which seldom give warning and are always equally devastating to their victims. Are you prepared to handle all kinds of disasters? The next time disaster strikes, you may not have much time to act. Prepare now for a sudden emergency. Learn how to protect yourself and cope with a disaster by planning ahead. Discuss all ideas with your family, then prepare an emergency plan. Post the plan where everyone will see it on a refrigerator or bulletin board.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please send an e-mail to the Petaluma Fire Department.


Earthquake Preparedness

First you should know that survival isn’t luck. You can survive an earthquake and minimize its damage simply by becoming aware of potential hazards and taking some basic earthquake preparedness measures.

The fact is that movement of the ground is seldom the actual cause of death or injury. Most casualties result from partial building collapse, falling objects and debris, such as toppling bookcases, ceiling plaster and light fixtures.

Since earthquakes strike without warning, it is important to act now. The longer you wait, the greater the risk. The experts know that damaging earthquakes are coming but they don’t know when, so it’s smart to assume that it’s sooner rather than later. At least then, you’ll be prepared. You can rest a little easier knowing that you know what to do (and not to do) before, during, and after the quake.

The checklist and guidelines here are your ground rules for survival.There is no doubt that we have some serious problems with earthquake faults in California, but we have some simple lifesaving solutions too.

Before the Quake

Develop a family earthquake plan. Prepare yourself, your family and your home by completing the activities on this checklist.

  • Decide how and where your family will reunite if separated.
  • Choose an out-of-state friend or relative that separated family members can call after the quake to report their whereabouts and condition.
  • Know the safe spots in each room; under sturdy tables, desks, or against inside walls.
  • Know the danger spots: windows, mirrors, hanging objects, fireplaces and tall, unsecured furniture.
  • Conduct practice drills. Physically place yourself in safe locations.
  • Learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitations) from your local Red Cross Chapter or other community organization.
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers.
  • Learn how to shut off gas, water and electricity in case the lines are damaged. (Safety note: Do not attempt to relight gas pilot. Call the utility company.)
  • Check chimneys, roofs, walls, and foundations for stability. Make sure your house is bolted to its foundation.
  • Secure water heater and appliances that could move enough to rupture utility lines.
  • Keep breakables and heavy objects on bottom shelves.
  • Secure heavy tall furniture that can topple, such as bookcases, china cabinets or wall units.
  • Secure hanging plants and heavy picture frames or mirrors (especially over beds).
  • Put latches on cabinet doors to keep them closed during shaking.
  • Keep flammable or hazardous liquids such as paints, pest sprays or cleaning products in cabinets or secured on lower shelves.
  • Maintain emergency food, water and other supplies, including a flashlight, a portable batter-operated radio, extra batteries, medicines, first aid kit and clothing.
During the Quake
  • If indoors, stay there. Get under a desk or table or stand in a corner.
  • If outdoors, get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines.
  • If driving, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses and power lines. Stay inside until the shaking is over.
  • If in a high-rise building, stay away from windows and outside walls. Get under a table. Do not use elevators.
After the Quake

Check for injuries. Apply first aid. Do not move seriously injured individuals unless they are in immediate danger.

Do not use the telephone immediately unless there is a serious injury or fire.

Hunt for hazards.

  • Check for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring or sewage lines. If there is damage, turn utility off at the source.
  • Check building for cracks and damage, including roof, chimneys and foundation.
  • Check food and water supplies. Emergency water may be obtained from water heaters, melted ice cubes, toilet tanks and canned vegetables.
  • Turn on your portable radio for instructions and news reports. Cooperate fully with public safety officials.
  • Do not use your vehicle unless there is an emergency. Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles.

United States Geological Survey Earthquake Information


Floods & Winter Wise Your Family

In recent years, storms in California have become more intense and longer lasting. Flash floods, mudslides, stream and creek flooding have all occurred in Sonoma County--claiming lives and damaging property. Wherever you live or travel, you should be aware of the dangers of a winter storm and be prepared to cope with one.

You can rest a little easier knowing that you know what to do (and not to do) before the storm, when you receive a storm warning, during the storm, and after the storm.

Your city and county have prepared these brief safety tips to follow if a winter storm threatens you and your family. Keep this information handy.

For normal floods, knowing what to expect is half the battle. If you are a new resident, get to know something about your surrounding area. Has your house ever flooded? Is there a history of the streets in your neighborhood becoming impassable during a storm event? Do you need renter's or owner's flood (and earthquake) insurance? Find out. There are plenty of people around that can tell you about floods. Be sure to ask about various routes out of the area.

  • Keep first aid and critical medical supplies, such as prescription medications, on hand.
  • Keep a stock of food which requires little cooking and no refrigeration; electrical power may be interrupted.
  • Keep a portable radio and flashlights in working order. Have extra batteries on hand.
  • Keep your automobile fueled; if electric power is cut off, filling stations may not be able to operate.
  • Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency waterproofing.
When You Receive a Storm Warning
  • Store drinking water in closed, clean containers. Water service may be interrupted.
  • If flooding is likely, and time permits, move essential items and furniture to upper floors of your home.
  • If advised to leave your home, move to a safe area before access is cut off by flood water. Leave a note telling friends and relatives where you are going.
  • As you are evacuating your home, cut off all electric circuits at the fuse panel by pulling the main switch, or disconnect all electrical appliances. Shut off the gas service at the valve next to the meter, and turn off the water service at the main valve.
During the Storm
  • Avoid areas subject to sudden flooding.
  • Do not try to cross a flowing stream where water is above your knees.
  • Do not try to drive over a flooded road. You can be stranded and trapped.
  • If your vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Many people drown while trying to rescue their cars.
  • Do not "sightsee" in areas where flooding or snowfall is occurring; do not try to enter areas closed by local law enforcement agencies, the Sheriff, or California Highway Patrol.
  • Avoid unnecessary trips; if you must travel during the storm, dress warmly. Advise others of your destination.
  • Use the telephone only for family emergency needs or to report dangerous conditions.
  • Beware of downed power lines or broken gas lines. Report them immediately to your local gas or electric utility company, police or fire department.
  • Keep tuned to one of your local radio or television stations for emergency information.
After the Storm
  • DO NOT TURN GAS BACK ON YOURSELF. Rely on utility company crews.
  • Do not use fresh food that has come in contact with flood waters.
  • Make sure drinking water is not contaminated; wells should be pumped out and water tested before drinking.
  • Do not visit disaster areas; your presence will probably hamper rescue and emergency operations, and you might be in danger.
  • Do not handle live electrical equipment in wet areas. If electrical equipment or appliances have been in contact with water, do not use them until local authorities tell you they are safe.
  • Use flashlights, not lanterns or matches, to examine buildings; flammables may be inside.
  • Report broken utility lines to police, fire or other appropriate authorities.
  • Continue to beware of downed power lines or broken gas lines.
  • Stay tuned to radio or television for vital information.


Helping Children Cope with Disaster

Earthquakes…Tornadoes…Fires…Floods…Hurricanes…Hazardous Spills

Disasters may strike quickly and without warning. These events can be frightening for adults, but they are traumatic for children if they don’t know what to do.

During a disaster, your family may have to leave your home and daily routine. Children may become anxious, confused or frightened. As an adult, you’ll need to cope with the disaster in a way that will help children avoid developing a permanent sense of loss. It is important to give children guidance that will help them reduce their fears.

This information is provided to you from the Petaluma Fire Department to help you help your children cope. Ultimately, you should decide what’s best for your children, but consider using these suggestions as guidelines.

Children and Their Response to Disaster

Children depend on daily routines: they wake up, eat breakfast, go to school, play with friends. When emergencies or disasters interrupt this routine, children may become anxious.

In a disaster, they’ll look to you and other adults for help. How you react to an emergency gives them clues on how to act. If you react with alarm, a child may become more anxious. They see our fear as proof that the danger is real. If you seem overcome with a sense of loss, a child may feel their losses more strongly.

Children’s fears also may stem from their imagination, and you should take these feelings seriously. A child who feels afraid is afraid. Your words and actions can provide reassurance. When talking with your child, be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable.

Feelings of fear are healthy and natural for adults and children. But as an adult, you need to keep control of the situations. When you’re sure that danger has passed, concentrate on your child’s emotional needs by asking the child what’s uppermost in his or her mind. Having children participate in the family’s recovery activities will help them feel that their life will return to “normal.” Your response during this time may have a lasting impact.

Be aware that after a disaster, children are most afraid that—

  • the event will happen again.
  • someone will be injured or killed.
  • they will be separated from the family.
  • they will be left alone.

Advice to Parents: Prepare for Disaster

You can create a Family Disaster Plan by taking four simple steps. First, learn what hazards exist in your community and how to prepare for each. Then meet with your family to discuss what you would do, as a group, in each situation. Next, take steps to prepare your family for disaster such as: posting emergency phone numbers, selecting an out-of-state family contact, assembling disaster supplies kits for each member of your household and installing smoke detectors on each level of your home. Finally, practice your Family Disaster Plan so that everyone will remember what to do when a disaster does occur.

  • Develop and practice a Family Disaster Plan. Contact your local emergency management, civil defense office, or your local Red Cross chapter for materials that describe how your family can create a disaster plan. Everyone in the household, including children, should play a part in the family’s response and recovery efforts.
  • Teach your children how to recognize danger signals. Make sure your child knows what smoke detectors, fire alarms and local community warning systems (horns, sirens) sound like.
  • Explain how to call for help. Teach your child how and when to call for help. Check the telephone directory for local emergency phone numbers and post these phone numbers by all telephones. If you live in a 9-1-1-service area, tell your child to call 9-1-1.
  • Help your child memorize important family information. Children should memorize their family name, address and phone number. They should also know where to meet in case of an emergency. Some children may not be old enough to memorize the information. They could carry a small index card that lists emergency information to give to an adult or babysitter.

After the Disaster: Time for Recovery

Immediately after the disaster, try to reduce your child’s fear and anxiety.

  • Keep the family together. While you look for housing and assistance, you may want to leave your children with relatives or friends. Instead, keep the family together as much as possible and make children a part of what you are doing to get the family back on its feet. Children get anxious, and they’ll worry that their parents won’t return.
  • Calmly and firmly explain the situation. As best as you can, tell children what you know about the disaster. Explain what will happen next. For example, say, “Tonight, we will all stay together in the shelter.” Get down to the child’s eye level and talk to them.
  • Encourage children to talk. Let children talk about the disaster and ask questions as much as they want. Encourage children to describe what they’re feeling. Listen to what they say. If possible, include the entire family in the discussion.
  • Include children in recovery activities. Give children chores that are their responsibility. This will help children feel they are part of the recovery. Having a task will help them understand that everything will be all right.

You can help children cope by understanding what causes their anxieties and fears. Reassure them with firmness and love. Your children will realize that life will eventually return to normal. If a child is having trouble coping, seek help from a mental health specialist or a member of the clergy.



Contact Information

Leonard Thompson, Fire Chief

Jeff Schach,
Assistant Chief - Fire Administration, Operations & Disaster Preparedness, EMS Division

Jessica Power,
Fire Marshal – Fire Prevention & Technical Services Division

Dave Kahn,
Battalion Chief

Chad Costa,
Battalion Chief - Communications, Technology

Mike Medeiros,
Battalion Chief - Communications, Technology, Training

Kevin Weaver,
Interim Battalion Chief - Support Services Division, Safety & Wellness


Petaluma Fire Department Location:
198 ‘D’ St.
Petaluma, CA 94952
phone: 707.778.4390
alternative emergency phone:
fax: 707.931.0668
Fire Prevention Bureau Location:
22 Bassett Street
Fire Marshal
phone: 707.778.4389
fax: 707.206.6036
mailing address:
11 English Street
Petaluma, CA 94952