Emergency Response at Shared Spaces

Video transcript

Shared Spaces have transformed San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks. Local business communities are more resilient, and our neighborhood centers are more vibrant and lively. Sidewalks and parking lanes can be used for outdoor seating, dining, merchandising, and other community activities. We’re counting on operators of Shared Spaces to ensure their sites are safe and accessible for all. 

When Paramedics, firefighters, and other first responders arrive at a scene, they need clear visual access to see the building entrances, exits, and storefront windows from the street. That means, parklets should be transparent in the areas above 42” above the sidewalk level.

It’s best if these areas are totally unobstructed, but transparent materials may be ok. You can check with Fire Department staff to make sure your site meets visibility requirements. 

Emergency response crews and their equipment also need to move easily between street, sidewalk, and buildings, especially when they are using medical gurneys, ladders, and other firefighting tools. That means that parklet structures need a 3-foot-wide emergency access gap every 20 feet, as well as a setback of 3 feet from the ends of marked parking spaces.

Emergency access gaps need to be open to the sky; without obstructions like canopies, roofs or cables and should always be clear of tables, chairs, planters and other furnishings. 

Emergency responders need to use ladders to reach to reach windows and roofs of buildings and the ladders need unobstructed overhead clearance and room to be placed at a 72-degree angle against the building. Clearance is also needed around these ladders to move equipment and people safely up and down. So, not all parklets can have roofs and canopies, depending on the width of the sidewalk in your area.

Please make sure that your electrical cables are hung so they don’t get in our way and if strung from the building to the Shared Space structure they can be easily pulled down by firefighters. Cable connections need to be powered from an outdoor-rated receptacle on the building façade because hardwired connections are much more difficult to disconnect quickly. 

These updates to the Shared Spaces program will help to ensure safety and accessibility for everyone so we can all truly share public spaces. More information is available at sf.gov/sharedspaces.