Public Safety Power Shutdown Response Guide

1. Introduction

Based on the previous wildfires in Northern California, PG&E has implemented planned power shutdowns in areas that meet certain criteria that would pose high risk of fires through downed power lines.No single criteria has been identified but the determination will be based on a combination of the below:

  • Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service
  • Warm temperatures
  • Very low humidity (20% or below)
  • Strong winds (sustained above 25mph, gusts in excess of 45mph)
  • Condition of dry vegetation fuel on the ground
  • Real-time observations from PG&E crews and experts

It is important to note that the University of San Francisco does not need to be in a high fire-threat area to be impacted.

Proposed Timeline of Shutdown

PG&E will send customer alerts before a shutdown as well as providing information to the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SF DEM). SF DEM will utilize the SF Alert system to notify the City and County of San Francisco.

The exact timing of the notifications will depend on the conditions but PG&E’s goal is 24 hour sprior with additional reminder notifications leading to the specific time. Ongoing updates from PG&E will be provided via websites, social media, local news, and radio until the power is restored. PG&E will inspect and repair power lines and equipment prior to full restoration. Shutdowns could last anywhere from several hours to multiple days.

Buildings Impacted with PG&E Outage

The university’s co-generation plant is responsible for generating 66% of the university’s power during peak usage. The rest is provided by PG&E. The below buildings from the Hilltop campus are fully powered by PG&E and will have the greatest impact:

  1. Lone Mountain Campus (Main, North, Pacific Wing, Rossi Wing)
  2. Loyola Village
  3. Pedro Arrupe Residence Hall
  4. St. Anne’s Residence Hall
  5. Fulton House
  6. Loyola House
  7. 281 Masonic
  8. School of Education

Emergency generators are found in Lone Mountain in Public Safety Dispatch, ITS Data Servers.There are areas in Harney and CSI that are on backup power as well.

Note: USF’s other Additional Campuses are fully dependent on PG&E power.

2. Building Access and Security Considerations

  • Specific Building Access Plans will be enacted to maintain security in our buildings during an extended outage

3. Activation of Emergency Operations Center

  • When notice of the shutdown is made either directly from PG&E or from the City and County of San Francisco, the Emergency Operations Center will be activated.
    • Per ​University of San Francisco Emergency Operations Plan,​ this is done by the President or designee. In the event that the President is not present, or is disabled,authority and responsibility to proclaim a State of Emergency and activate the Emergency Operations Center may follow this chain of succession:
      1. University President
      2. Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs
      3. Vice President, Business and Finance and Chief Financial Officer
      4. Vice Provost, Student Life
      5. Vice President, Information Technology Services and Chief Information Officer
      6. Associate Vice President, Facilities Management
      7. Senior Director, Public Safety
      8. Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students

4. Actions Following Notice of PSPS (~24 hours Out)

  • Activation of Emergency Operations Center and Incident Management Team
  • Office of Marketing Communications activate Crisis Communication Plan
  • Messaging sent to community that there is a power shutdown coming and Emergency Operations Center has been activated. This is to be done via USF Alert.
    • The university will update it’s PSPS website with link on the main homepage.
  • Continuity personnel identified by departments with a specific role to serving on-campus community to be alerted by department heads and make arrangements for being on campus
    • Continuity Services
      • Public Safety
      • Facilities Management
      • Bon Appetit
      • Student Housing and Residential Education
      • Information Technology Services
      • Continuity Instruction Planners
      • Deans of each school and college will determine continuity services in each school and college
  • To be determined dependent on the needs of the campus community
  • Departments should plan for potential extended operations with potentially minimal staffing levels
  • Provost to begin conversations with Deans regarding activation of Continuity of Classes Plan - ​Determination of Continuity of Classes Plan to be made. See Appendix B for the plan.
    • Deans begin communication to their respective schools and colleges
    • Prescripted messaging to faculty to prepare for Continuity of Classes Plan activation
    • Dean of SONHP or designee will send guidance via email to faculty and staff about decision-making with respect to student clinicals rotations, fieldwork, practicum,other non-Hilltop-situated activities
  • Events Management to begin audit of all activities on and off campus
  • Bon Appetit to begin implementing Emergency Action Plan for USF
  • Facilities Management to test and fill emergency generators
  • Finalize which buildings will receive co-generation power
  • Redistribute resources to areas that will remain open, as needed
  • SHaRE to implement its Public Safety Power Shutdown Protocols
  • ITS to implement its protocols
  • Develop signage for campus buildings

5. Public Safety Power Shutdown Actions

Immediate Actions (0-2 Hours)

  • Notification to community of power outage sent via USF Alert○Update all relevant means of communication
  • Assess impact of utility outage on communications, IT systems, building security
  • Ensure food service operations are able to continue
  • Ensure co-generation power is operational

Intermediate Response (2-12 Hours)

  • Continue to monitor situation
  • Finalize Fire Watch procedures
  • Provide updates to campus community through all available media at set timeline determined by President’s Cabinet and OMC
  • Maintain contact with local City and County partners to provide and receive situational updates

Extended Response (Greater Than 12 Hours)

  • Begin Fire Watch procedures in all applicable buildings
  • Continue to monitor situation
  • Continue to provide updates to campus community
  • Maintain contact with local City and County partners to provide and receive situational updates

Demobilization (Once The Power Has Been Restored)

  • Ensure fire safety systems have been checked, are operational to ensure life safety within each of the USF buildings
  • Ensure entry and exit points are functioning
  • Send notification of resumption of normal operations via USF Alert

Appendix A: Fire Watch Policy


This Fire Watch policy is to define the process for determination of a fire watch and there sponsibilities for notification to the State Fire Marshal in regards to failures or activations of fire suppression and/or alarm system.

A Fire Watch is defined as employing personnel to perform the sole duty of providing constant patrols of the protected premise and keep watch for fires.

Establishing a Fire Watch

Once a watch has been ordered, it will generally be required that the building be monitored constantly by a designated employee, who may not perform any additional duties while on watch.This requirement may be exempted if the building is not occupied, noticed as appropriate, and has been secured.

Depending on the conditions, length of time, and hours of the fire watch, a variety of university departments may be involved in supplying and training persons who will be designated on fire watch. When possible, fire watch staffing should be considered from staff that is generally assigned to work in the facility under fire watch since they possess knowledge about the facility and its operations. For example, a fire watch in a residential building should be coordinated with Student Housing and Residential Education (SHaRE).

The types of employees that may be considered for fire watch duty include, but are not limited to:

  • Employees of the impacted facility
  • Facilities Management employees
  • SHaRE employees
  • Building Marshals
  • Public Safety employees
  • Others as determined by staff availability

Fire Watch Guidelines

Depending on the conditions of the affected building and the requirements of the watch, the procedures for the watch may vary. The following, however, are general guidelines to be considered in all watches.

Under traditional fire watch guidelines, a fire watch is done in coordination with a State Fire Marshal. For instances of a widespread outage, for example Public Safety Power Shutdown, USF will take the onus of instituting a fire watch internally within the university.

Facility/Watch Orientation

A Watch Coordinator is responsible for providing the watch employee(s) with an understanding of the equipment outage and/or other condition that led to the watch. The watch employee is to be notified of and shown areas containing hazardous materials, flammable materials, and areas that could be more prone to fire. It should not be assumed that the watch employee knows the signs of fire and must review them with the watch employee prior to their watch.

Additionally, the watch employee must:

  • Have access to all affected areas and know how to access all areas that must be checked
  • Must be notified of the frequency and scope of inspection
  • Must know how to reach Department of Public Safety
  • Must know how to promptly evacuate the building


During a fire watch, the designated watch employee is required to monitor and inspect the affected area, looking for signs of fire. This may include evaluation of things that can be seen, smelled,and/or heard. While specific requirements based on building may be determined, basic monitoring includes:

  • Visual inspection of all corridors, doors, lobbies, vestibules, stairwells, and other public locations
  • Awareness for odors including smoke, natural gas, or other hazardous materials
  • Awareness of sounds associated with fire or fire hazards
  • increased sensitivity toward activities that could start a fire including cooking, construction,or maintenance activities

The watch employee should err on the side of caution and notify the Department of Public Safety of any condition that they believe to be a fire or fire hazard.

The watch employee may not perform any other duties while assigned to fire watch.


With the permission of the State Fire Marshal, or through discussion internal to the university, a fire watch may have decreased requirements during periods of non-occupancy. The university will take all reasonable steps to ensure any persons who may independently access the facility during that time period are aware of the non-occupancy order and that the building is noticed in such a way that would advise occupants not to enter.

Generally, even during periods of non-occupancy, periodic exterior visual checks will be required and can generally be done by the Department of Public Safety or Facilities Management. Exterior patrols will be done no less than once per hour and logged by Public Safety Dispatch.

Signs should be printed on red paper and posted at all entrances.

Fire or Hazard Response

The watch employee is not trained and is not expected to perform any actions associated with fire suppression or take any actions to facilitate evacuation for others aside from notification to others as they evacuate the building.

Any observed fire condition or fire hazard must be reported to the Department of Public Safety as soon as practical. The watch employee should tell the Dispatcher the following:

  • Location of the fire/hazard
  • Description of hazard or size of fire
  • How many people are in the building and if evacuation is underway

The watch employee should remain on scene to describe their observations to law enforcement and/or fire services.


A Fire Watch Log must be completed and maintained for the period where Fire Watch is mandated.At the conclusion of the watch, a copy of the log can be emailed to the following people:

  • State Fire Marshal
  • Associate Vice President, Facilities Management
  • Senior Director of Public Safety
  • A copy of the Fire Watch Log is attached.

Tools Required for a Fire Watch

  1. A phone with the capability to reach the Department of Public Safety (415.422.2911) and 911.
  2. A megaphone to magnify voice level or a loud whistle to indicate an alarm.
  3. Knowledge of building/grounds and evacuation procedures.
  4. Logbook or written records for the patrol rounds of building and grounds. The log book shall also contain a directory of names and phone numbers to be used in the event of an emergency. The logbook shall remain on site for inspection.
  5. Post “Fire Alarm Out of Service” signs at every elevator landing, at each stairwell, and at all entrances into the building. The font shall be a minimum one inch high.
  6. Other special instructions as required by the Fire Department or university.