According to the San Francisco Chronicle Supervisor Aaron Peskin criticized Fire Chief Janne Hayes-White as a residential and commercial building in his district burned, saying that firefighters had been slow to pour water on the blaze and that he had been unable to reach the chief as the emergency unfolded.
“This was an abject failure of the Fire Department,” said Peskin, leader of the board’s progressive faction, as smoke poured from the building across from Washington Square Park in North Beach on Saturday night. Eight residents were displaced from the building at 659 Union St., and 10 businesses were damaged. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Hayes-White was at the scene in her fire jacket and helmet and defended her department’s efforts, saying firefighters were concentrating on battling flames inside the building and making sure no one was trapped before spraying water from the outside.
Fire crews arrived within two minutes of getting a call at 7:24 p.m., Hayes-White said. “We’re professional firefighters,” she said. “We know what we’re doing.”
But that didn’t satisfy Peskin, who fumed 10 feet away. He’d rushed to the fire from a dinner at the New Asia restaurant in Chinatown, after receiving a text message at 7:30 p.m.
“They didn’t put water on the fire for half an hour,” he said.
Peskin has a history of clashing with city department heads, including Hayes-White. He attacked her after an April 21 fire at a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. substation in the Tenderloin knocked out power downtown and in the northern areas of the city.