Wildfire Safety

Wildfire Safety and Public Safety Power Shutoffs

In recent years, wildfires have intensified in California, and utilities are taking action to reduce fire risks related to utility infrastructure. Under threat of wildfire and extreme weather, a utility may shut off power to electric lines in high threat areas to prevent wildfire. This is called a public safety power shutoff, or PSPS. The City of Palo Alto monitors conditions and makes local operational decisions based on the safety and best interests of our community members and our utility’s infrastructure.

Wildfire Mitigation and Prevention

The City of Palo Alto has a wildfire mitigation plan that outlines activities by CPAU and other city departments to mitigate the threat of wildfires associated with overhead electric lines and associated equipment. Ongoing local wildfire prevention methods include increased vegetation management and electric line inspections, prioritized maintenance, and additional staff training. CPAU works with the Urban Forestry division to ensure that trees are trimmed and inspected annually to prevent contact with electric lines as an ignition source of fires. Future activities include rebuilding, replacing and rerouting overhead lines and poles, refining construction practices, improving communication systems, and coordinating activities with PG&E.

Local Wildfire Conditions

We have identified the Foothills as the area at an elevated risk for wildfire in Palo Alto, and staff monitor conditions very closely. The rest of the city is considered at low risk for wildfire or PSPS. 

Potential Power Outages in Palo Alto

CPAU cannot guarantee continuous power for any given length of time if there is a large power outage, so it is important for residents and businesses to be prepared. Large power outages could potentially last for several or more days. Staff are evaluating available resources to supply temporary power to critical facilities in the event of a large power outage.

Prepare for emergencies and power outages through utilizing resources at www.cityofpaloalto.org/preparedness or contact us to request a copy of our Utilities Safety and Emergency Preparedness brochure

What You Can Expect from Us

  • Wildfire Prevention – Vegetation management, electric line inspections, prioritized maintenance, tree trimming & inspection to prevent contact with electric lines.
  • Early Warning Notification – The city will aim to send customer alerts if anticipating a potential PSPS.
  • Ongoing Updates – Through social media, email, phone call, text, website, or AlertSCC.
  • Safety Inspections – If a PSPS is necessary, CPAU will inspect the lines in affected areas after extreme weather has passed before power is safely restored.
  • Power Restoration – Power outages could last multiple days depending on weather severity and other factors.
  • Future Activities – Rebuilding, replacing, rerouting overhead lines & poles; refining construction practices;
    improving communication systems; coordinating with other utilities. 


How You Can Prepare

  • Have a personal safety plan in place for every member of your household, including pets.
  • Plan for any medical needs, such as medications that need to be refrigerated, or devices that require power.
  • Build or restock your emergency supply kit, including food, water, flashlights, a radio, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.
  • If you own a backup generator, ensure it is ready to safely operate.
  • Sign up to receive AlertSCC notifications at alertscc.org


Stay Informed and Prepared

Connect with us or review our resources to learn more about utility infrastructure safety, wildfire prevention, emergency preparation and disaster response. We encourage residents and businesses to prepare themselves at the following sites: 



It is also a wise idea to check our cityofpaloalto.org/stayinformed webpage to ensure you are signed up to receive emergency notifications from the City during any potential emergency situations.

In the event of an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

For non-emergency public safety issues, call (650) 329-2413.

Contact Utilities at UtilitiesCommunications@cityofpaloalto.org or (650) 329-2417.