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San Francisco Fire Department’s NERT

Case Study in Maximizing Community Participation: San Francisco Fire Department’s NERT for the Win

The City and County of San Francisco found a pretty inspirational way to amplify its emergency response capabilities. The fire department and its Neighborhood Emergency Response Team are the very first Regroup Ready Award winners. 

A California community — the fourth-largest in the state — is served by a team that is trained and ready to serve them in an emergency. From wildfires to earthquakes and man-made crises, the community is served by both professional first responders and tens of thousands of citizens who are trained and ready to help.

The Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) is a group of volunteer residents who are trained by the San Francisco Fire Department to respond to emergencies. It’s a powerful group: More than 25,000 residents have been trained to date, with about 1,000 being trained by professional first responders every year. 

Formed in the wake of an extremely powerful and deadly earthquake, the NERT organization is used as a model for other municipalities that want to explore how to leverage community volunteers who want to help in emergencies. 

But organizing such vast networks is a challenge. The San Francisco Fire Department uses Regroup Mass Notification for its first responders, and the NERT organization uses the same platform to keep its volunteers informed and connected. NERT groups use it for team-wide communications about training and alerts, and also for specific team messages that are targeted by neighborhood.


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The Regroup Ready Award was created to honor our clients who use the platform in creative and impactful ways. The nominees made this very competitive! Organizations and agencies who use mass notifications to keep communities safe and informed were both inspiring and impressive. From protecting people from mass shootings and cyberattacks, to evacuating buildings because of dangerous storms, the administrators of mass notifications are using the technological platform to keep people safe and informed.

The San Francisco Fire Department NERT program won the Regroup Ready Award based on its scale of size, its creativity, and its ability to leverage the power of a compassionate and giving group of volunteers in order to keep the city and county safe in emergencies. 

The team won our admiration, a trophy and bragging rights. The NERT group used the financial gift from Regroup to donate to the San Francisco Public Health Foundation. We love that the San Francisco NERT team chose to “give where they live,” walking the talk of serving its community!

Would you like to learn more about how the organization leverages its powerful network of civic-minded volunteers to respond to emergencies? Download our case study here.