Getting them out alive

The San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation (Foundation), in partnership with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD), has made securing funding for Personal Escape Systems (PES) for every SDFD firefighter a priority.


In 2014, all SDFD firefighters were required to attend fire ground survival training. The survival training program enhanced firefighter safety and survival by teaching and reinforcing appropriate fire ground behaviors and actions. These actions included the instruction of the skills necessary to rapidly exit an upper floor. Firefighters were trained on the use of PES through the recent survival training National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) recommended PES. Unfortunately, because of the scale of this project, SDFD has not been able to provide funding for individual PES.


SDFD believes that the benefits of providing a PES to every firefighter include: enhanced firefighter safety, reduced costs associated from time lost due to injury, and leveraging prior investments in training. Costs associated with injuries and firefighter fatalities are devastating and far outweigh the expense of purchasing a PES for every SDFD firefighter. Ensuring our firefighters are adequately trained to recognize fire dangers and to react accordingly in emergency situations not only serves to protect the lives of the SDFD members, but also safeguards the community’s human resources and financial investment.


In 2016, the Foundation and the SDFD were able to provide enough PES for each firefighter on duty on any given shift. This is a great first step but we are not done yet. The Foundation is continuing its fundraising efforts to help provide the remaining 600 PES needed to outfit every SDFD firefighter.

The $310,200 still needed provides a good value to the City of San Diego. If applied to the community, it equates to less than $0.25 per San Diego resident—a minimal investment for the ability of firefighters to self-rescue; if applied against number of firefighters that need this equipment (600), it equates to $517 per firefighter. Although the costs are high to purchase an additional 600 PES for a department this large, the benefit to not only the City of San Diego but surrounding agencies which the City supports via mutual aid make this project a wise investment.