Fire Trek

Why do San Francisco emergency workers live so far away?

"It has been an issue, but it has never come to pass. We've never had a problem with it," Deputy Chief Slater says. "In 1989, we recalled everybody and everybody got here rapidly."

"I know where my priorities lie," says Fuhrman.
And the Police Department's Long says there's never been a problem to his knowledge with commuting officers reporting for work in times of trouble.

"There were no problems at all," Long says.
In fact, Fire Department officials claim that having firefighters live elsewhere might even be a good thing. If San Francisco is the epicenter of the next quake, then out-of-town firefighters will have an advantage, in that they won't be dead and/or buried. That's the argument, in any case.

So, if there is an emergency, here's where the firefighters and police officers will be coming into town from. The list is according to the numerical order of the ZIP codes: San Diego, Tustin, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Daly City, El Granada, Half Moon Bay, La Honda, Los Altos, Millbrae, Montara, Moss Beach, Mountain View, Pacifica, Pescadero, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, South San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Sacramento, Palo Alto, San Mateo, Alameda, Danville, Alamo, Angwin, Antioch, Benicia, Clayton, Brentwood, Canyon, Concord, Pleasant Hill, Crockett, El Cerrito, Fairfield, Fremont, Hayward, Castro Valley, Hercules, Lafayette, Livermore, Martinez, Moraga, Napa, Newark, Oakley, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasanton, Dublin, Rodeo, San Leandro, San Ramon, Suisin City, Union City, Pleasanton, Vallejo, Walnut Creek, Oakland, Emeryville, Piedmont, Berkeley, Richmond, El Sobrante, San Pablo, San Rafael, Greenbrae, Belvedere, Bolinas, Corte Madera, Rohnert Park, Fairfax, Cotati, Forest Knolls, Lagunitas, Larkspur, Marshall, Mill Valley, Novato, Penngrove, Petaluma, San Anselmo, San Geronimo, Sausalito, Woodacre, Boulder Creek, Milpitas, Cupertino, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Jose, Tracy, Turlock, Stockton, Murphys, Manteca, Merced, Modesto, Soulsbyville, Tuolumne, Santa Rosa, Camp Meeker, Cazadero, Cloverdale, Cobb, Forestville, Glen Ellen, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Kenwood, Lower Lake, Middletown, Monte Rio, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Willits, Kirkwood, Pleasant Grove, Windsor, Davis, Dixon, Elk Grove, Folsom, Vacaville, Volcano, Wilton, Alta, Nevada City, Olympic Valley, Red Bluff, Weaverville, and Truckee.

Now, we're not being provincial, but if firefighters and police officers are willing to drive three hours to get to work, these places must have attractions that San Francisco can't match. But what? To find out, we called around.

Willits: "There's lots of pine trees and oak trees, and I have gray squirrels and deer and jack rabbits and ferns," says Janel Baxter, of the Willits Chamber of Commerce. "There is a valley, a little, like, valley, and when it rains it actually fills up with water. But then it runs off."

Tustin: "Its motto is it's the city of flowers. No, sorry, the city of trees," says Cherie Yu, of the Tustin Chamber of Commerce. "There's, like, Old Town Tustin which has a, you know, more historic look, and the buildings are older, and then, like, if you're driving down Newport or, you know, one of the bigger streets, it's like, you know, any modern city."

Truckee: "Truckee is the coldest city in the United States, including Alaska. What really happens is at night it cools down significantly in the summer. It can get into the 30s, so our city has more of the 'coldest spot in the nation today' than any other," says Jordan Horowitz, of the Truckee Chamber of Commerce. Which the Donner Party found out about in short order. Donner Lake is in Truckee, but people don't dwell on it. "It's part of the history, but we don't go around eating each other," Horowitz says.

Guerneville: "We were a hippie colony for a long time. Then, a number of years ago, a large number of gay men moved into town and built nice homes and opened nice shops. Initial-ly, that gay influx brought a flamboyant kind of lifestyle that was not too familiar to our citizens, but as things change, as people get to know each other, as people get educated -- people get bonded," says Judy Boyce, executive director of the Guerneville Chamber of Commerce. "We have hippies, we have gays, we have straights, we have San Francisco firefighters, and we don't hold it against them."

Soulsbyville and Tuolumne: "We have towns that are old-time areas, like Sonora and Jamestown and Columbia, and yet on the outskirts we have convenient shopping like Wal-Mart, Pack-and-Save, Penny's, Longs," says Butch Newlin, of the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce. "We're above the fog and below the snow; you can select an elevation to live at. You can have a little bit of snow or a lot of snow."

Mill Valley: "We have our wine and gourmet food tasting on the last Sunday in June where we have 70 or 80 wineries and some gourmet food places come. It's not free. It's $20 a ticket. But with that you get a free wine glass and a tray.

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