San Mateo County Fire Service
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Fire Prevention Officers


Jon Johnston

Vice President:
Uli Peretz

Lisa Guerrero

Liaison Chief:
Jim Skinner

Agency Members



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Fire Safety & Health Advisory: the issue of firefighters and asbestos exposure is a very serious health concern. To learn more about how firefighters and community members can protect themselves from asbestos exposure, visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance at

Menlo Park Fire Protection District responded to a townhouse fire in the Sharon Park area of Menlo Park on July 16th.  The fire went to 5 alarms, which included 17 engines, and 5 trucks.  There was a total of 87 firefighters from fire departments in Menlo Park, Woodside, Belmont-San Carlos, and San Mateo County. The first in engine company on the scene tried to fight the fire from the inside, but had to back out due to temperatures exceeding 500 degrees at floor level.  Two firefighters suffered minor burn injuries during this inside attack (see photo of one firefighter's face mask which began to fail because of the extreme heat).  The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Foster City Fire Dept responded to a house fire on 6/9/09 at Apollo Lane in Foster City. Thanks to the fast response and quick actions of the firefighters the home was saved from serious fire damage. Firefighters extinguished a fire in the dining room of the home.  There was a lot of thick black smoke that the firefighters had to crawl through to extinguish the fire. The smoke was down to about two feet above the floor one of the firefighters said. There was smoke damage to the entire home and contents. Luckily no one was home at the time of the fire. The fire investigation concluded that an energized computer printer was the origin of the fire.

Working with the business community, inspectors from the North County Fire Authority use their fire extinguisher demonstration trailer to educate the community about the proper use of fire extinguishers.

Employees of the Koi Palace restaurant learn about the proper use fire extinguishers from inspectors of North County Fire Authority.

San Mateo Structure Fire

On April 29, 2009, San Mateo Fire and Police responded to a residential dwelling fire at 2810 Hosmer in San Mateo.  While units were enroute, additional calls were received for heavy smoke from the residence.

San Mateo’s first fire Engine was on scene four minutes after dispatch.  Upon arrival, firefighters reported a working fire and requested a second alarm.  The adjacent home at 2816 Hosmer, located just east of the involved structure also caught fire and sustained minor damage.    Three people were displaced as a result of the fire.  No injuries were reported as a result of the fire. Red Cross provided assistance for overnight amenities for the displaced family.

Estimated loss from the fire is $350,000-500,000.   The home had a working smoke detector which alerted the occupants of the fire. 

The fire investigation revealed a significant delay in reporting the fire.  In addition while the residents was evacuating their home they proceed to leave all doors open throughout the house allowing the fire to be spread by a strong northeasterly wind that evening. The area of origin was a twin bed in a back bedroom.  Ignition source is still under investigation.


Fire Sprinkler Saves Building in Downtown Burlingame

On Wednesday, March 4th, Central County Fire Department responded to a structure fire in our downtown area of Burlingame. The building is a 3-story residential hotel above a commercial business. Upon E-34’s arrival, the building fire alarm system was activating and a sprinkler head was activated in an individual unit on the 3rd floor. Fire damage was limited to this one unit. The area of origin was identified against the west wall of this unit, around an electrical outlet near the floor. A burn pattern was observed around the bed, which was situated directly up against the west wall and electrical outlet. This particular outlet was severely burned, with several partially burned cords connected into it. Several multi-outlet adapters were used throughout the unit – daisy-chained to one another and providing electricity to many appliances in the room. The circuit breaker to this unit was found in the “tripped” position.
All occupants safely evacuated the building and there was minimal smoke, fire, and water damage to the building.



The following joint statement was issued today by FIRESCOPE and the Governor's Blue Ribbon Fire Task Force, The two groups consist of local fire chiefs from throughout California, the CAL FIRE director and officials from federal agencies, along with organizations representing rank-and-file firefighters.

The preeminent duty of the fire service is protection of human life. For that reason, the California fire service stands united in the position that early evacuation in the face of life-threatening wildfire is the single most important thing any homeowner can do to protect lives.

The guiding principle of California's approach remains consistent and unwavering: Prepare your property, leave early, and follow all evacuation orders.

The fire service continues to study a variety of ideas and initiatives to enhance the protection of property, including supporting residents in returning to their property as quickly as possible. We also understand the need to find ways to assist those who are unable or unwilling to evacuate in a timely manner.

As a profession, the fire service is anxious to work cooperatively with individual communities, homeowners, local government, media, law enforcement and local, state and federal fire officials to build a fire-safe future. However, any consideration of the Australian so-called "Leave Early or Stay and Defend" policy would be irresponsible at this time in light of the tragedy in Australia, as well as California's own experience responding to firestorms.

Given California's ever-present risk of catastrophic wildfire, any fire protection plan must include a determined and forceful commitment to all available fire prevention strategies. In particular, it must recognize the value of building with ignition-resistant materials, maintaining a defensible space around structures, and preparing a home for the arrival of firefighters who have the experience of working under extreme conditions.

Finally, to achieve Fire Adaptive Communities, we must renew our efforts to provide the resources necessary to insure that California's emergency responders will be able to continue to protect the lives and property of its citizens.

FIRESCOPE - Chief P. Michael Freeman (L.A. County), Chair; (323) 881-2411

- Chief Sheldon Gilbert (Alameda Co.), (510) 618-3490
- Lou Paulson, Pres. CA Professional Firefighters (916) 921-9111

Fire Departments Warn of Fire Inspection Scam

At least one bay area business has been targeted by a company going by the name of “Fire Systems Inspections of USA.”  This outfit has recently been victimizing businesses throughout California. Read entire article

Prevention is not always fire related

On 9/15/08 I had just completed a home fire sprinkler inspection, as I was getting in my car a lady came up to me and said ....

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One smoke alarm saved four lives

Family Saved by Smoke Alarm in Foster City

During the early hours of a Sunday morning on 6/22/08, a family was alerted by the sound of a smoke alarm. The husband investigated and found a large fire in the garage. The family of four exited the home and neighbors called in the fire. One smoke alarm saved four lives.

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First Hoseline being pulled


A HOME ESCAPE PLAN is something the whole family must be involved in.....and practiced so that each person knows exactly what to do.
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Trees used indoors for the holidays account for approximately 400 fires annually, resulting in 10 deaths, 80 injuries and more than $15 million in property damage. Be Safe!

View the attached video that shows what happens in less than 60 seconds when a Christmas tree catches on fire.

For further information view the National Institute of Standards and Technology web site at

Smoke Detector Saves life in San Mateo County

Click link above for details

Smoke Alarms (Detectors)

testing the smoke detectorOver 70% of fire deaths occur in residential occupancies, specifically in homes and apartments. Most of these deaths are not from heat or flames, but from smoke and toxic fumes. However, homes with working smoke alarms can reduce the chance of injuries or deaths to its occupants. This small unit can give you early warning of a fire in your home and allow you enough time to escape. So, follow these simple steps for purchasing, locating and maintaining smoke alarms within your home to help protect the ones you love.

  • Ionization smoke alarms contain a small amount of radioactivity that conducts electricity. Electric current flows continuously between two electrodes in the alarm. When smoke particles enter, they disturb the flow, causing the alarm to go off. 
  • Photoelectric smoke alarms contain a beam of light and a photocell within the alarm. When the smoke enters, it deflects the beam, causing it to strike the photocell and set off the alarm.

The difference between the two types of alarms is generally not critical, since the response times for each are similar. Either type will work effectively in your home. Locating smoke alarms within your home is key to making sure they will work properly in a fire. You should have a alarm inside each bedroom, centrally located in the bedroom, in the hallway close to each sleeping area, and on each floor of the home. When mounting the alarm on the ceiling, do not place close to the corners or walls. When mounting on the wall, install the alarm between 4 - 12 inches from the corner where the wall meets the ceiling. Click here to find out where to install your smoke alarms.

Test each smoke alarm at least once a month by pressing the test button or by using a smoking incense stick placed near the alarm. Replace the battery in each alarm every 6 months. If an alarm emits small short beeps, the battery may be low so replace the battery immediately. Dust or vacuum each detector periodically to ensure that dust or insects don't obstruct the alarm's openings.

Click here to find out how smoke alarms work!

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