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U.S. Geological Survey experiments at Parkfield, California, generated an earthquake ≥prediction," or forecast in early March 1991. San Francisco Fire Chief Frederick Postel issued an order, via Teletype, to fire stations to prepare for this possible shock.

A bit of help on acronyms here. METS stands for Mayor's Emergency Telephone System, a stand-alone system independent of regular phone lines. AWSS is the Auxiliary Water Supply System constructed after 1906 to protect San Francisco from fires following major earthquakes.

Chief Postel's concerns were heightened because this "prediction" came less than two years after the disastrousLoma Prieta Earthquake. The "predicted," or forecast earthquake did not occur and the Survey was politically embarrassed. As a result the Parkfield experiment was allowed to go unfunded by the Survey, effectively killing an important scientific project.


From: ADM9
3/19/91 18.25.13

TO: All

The California State Office of Emergency Services – Region 2 – has notified the SFFD that there is an 11 to 37 percent chance that a 6 point earthquake on the San Andreas fault (Parkfield, between SF and LA) may occur within the next 72 hours.

All stations shall perform the following actions:

    1) Check vehicle fuel and top off all tanks.
    2) Check generators - test them and check fuel level.
    3) Load relief apparatus with hose and spare equipment.
    4) Notify Divisions of the status of relief and specialized apparatus.
    5) Check flashlights and batteries.
    6) Make sure relief apparatus is not trapped behind civilian vehicles, etc.
    7) Verify availability of recall rosters.
    8) Review Disaster Plan.
    9) Review shut-down procedures for the AWSS.
    10) All officers check METS phones.
Frederick F. Postel
Chief of Department

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