Emergency Operations Equipment

This three-pronged program will enable firefighters to access water to fight fires, even if the water system is damaged by an earthquake; provide emergency power at community centers designated as shelters; and establish stores of emergency supplies located at four separate areas of the city. 

Following the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, breaks in the water distribution system made it impossible to fight the 300 fires that broke out throughout the city. At the time of the levy proposal, Seattle firefighters would have faced similar challenges in a disaster.

Existing fireboats stationed in Elliott Bay and Lake Union can pump water from a maximum of about 400 feet from the water's edge. Two hose wagons enable firefighters to provide an above-ground water main of approximately one mile in length. The city's drinking water reservoirs provide another resource; but pumping water directly from those sources would contaminate the water for drinking purposes — a significant concern in the aftermath of an earthquake or other disaster.

This program included three projects to improve firefighters' ability to get water to where it is most needed. First, hardened hydrants were installed at the City's nine reservoirs and the Queen Anne water storage tank to provide easier access to water supplies and allow water to be drawn from a reservoir without contamination.

Second, all engines have now been equipped with light-weight hard suction hoses and floating strainers, so they can draw water from lakes and Puget Sound.

Third, new large diameter hose has been placed on every fire engine in the city. These actions increase firefighters' range when using water from reservoirs, lakes or saltwater.

Project Schedule

Start Date: 2004
End Date: 2006

Estimated Cost:
Approximately $820,000.

Status Report
This project is complete.


  • Late December 2005: Installations at all eight reservoirs have been completed.
  • Early December 2005: Beacon, Myrtle, Lincoln, Magnolia and West Seattle Reservoir sites are complete, and Roosevelt, Maple Leaf and Bitter Lake are scheduled to be completed by Seattle Public Utilities crews in December.
  • October 2005: Fire Department equipment and water connections at eight reservoirs will be complete by the end of the year. The hydrants at Beacon, Myrtle, and West Seattle are now in place. The first drafting port installation (Lincoln Reservoir) is substantially complete. The valve installation for the hydrant connection at the Roosevelt Reservoir was completed several months ago. The drafting port installation at that site and the other remaining three sites are planned for 4th quarter 2005.

The Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation is charged with providing shelter space in the event of a disaster. The City has designated six of the City's community centers as shelter facilities: the Bitter Lake and Meadowbrook community centers in North Seattle, the Queen Anne and Garfield community centers in Central Seattle, and the Delridge and Rainier Beach community centers in South Seattle.

The City has purchased six generators that can power the internal lighting systems and a number of specially wired outlets in these community centers.

Project Schedule

Start Date: 2004
End Date: 2006

Estimated Cost

Approximately $480,000

This project is complete.


  • August 2006: All six generators have been installed. The project is complete.
  • May 2006: Parks has now installed generators at five of the six community centers. Final siting location details have been reached with the Seattle School District for the Rainier Beach community center. Parks will install the generator after completing a property agreement with the School District later this month.
  • April 2006: Installation of the generator at the Delridge Community Center is complete. The Parks Department hopes to install one generator a week, and met recently with the School District to obtain approval for placing the generator at Rainier Beach Community Center.
  • Early December 2005: All generators have been delivered to the Parks Department. Testing is being completed by Parks crew.
  • October 2005: This project is on schedule to be completed by the end of this year. The Parks Department has now received three of the six generators.

The project consists of emergency caches strategically located in four different quadrants of the city: Magnolia, North Seattle, South Seattle, West Seattle. The caches contain basic supplies including cots, blankets, shelter kits and nurse kits for distribution by emergency workers following a major earthquake or other disaster.

Current Status

The emergency caches are stocked and operational. The project was completed in 2007.


  • March 2007: Cache buildings stocked with emergency supplies.
  • February 2007: Construction completed.
  • December 2006: Construction began.
  • Summer 2006: Omega Baha Industrial Contractors and Danneko Construction were awarded the construction contracts.
  • December 2005: The site was selected for the cache in Magnolia.
  • October 2005: Sites were selected for cache locations in North Seattle, South Seattle, and West Seattle.