Q. Who is eligible to apply as an ALERT volunteer?
A. Anyone 16 years of age or older who lives, works or attends school in San Francisco is eligible to apply as an ALERT volunteer.

Q. Is there any pre-requisite for becoming an ALERT volunteer?
A. Yes. You must first be currently certified by the San Francisco Fire Department Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) program, and secondly you must pass a basic background check performed by the SFPD.

Q. Do I have to have a background check performed to become an ALERT volunteer?
A. Yes. In your role as an ALERT volunteer you will come into contact with confidential and privileged police information which must be protected and kept secure. As such you must go through the same basic background check that all civilian employees of the police department complete. Your ALERT ID will be valid for 2 years at a time. On each 4 year anniversary you will be required to re-take the Live Scan for a re-check of your background information.

Q. I just had a Live Scan FBI/DOJ background check performed by another agency recently. Can you use those results?
A. Unfortunately not. The background check must be performed by each agency at the time they wish to engage a volunteer or employee to ensure the most accurate information is available at that moment. Thus SFPD must conduct the background check, even if you have just successfully passed one with another agency.

Q. If I have a criminal record, will that record preclude me from passing the background check and volunteering with ALERT?
A. Not necessarily. Much will depend on the nature, disposition and date of the crime for which you were prosecuted. The most important thing is to be completely honest and forthright in completing the background check paperwork. If you don’t note a prosecution that background investigators subsequently discover, that will almost certainly exclude you.



Q. Where is the ALERT training conducted?
A. All initial training to establish you as an ALERT volunteer is conducted at the SFPD Police Academy, 350 Amber Drive in San Francisco.

Q. What does the basic ALERT training consist of?
A. The basic ALERT training program consists of 8 hours of classroom and practical exercises at the SFPD Police Academy location. The training is taught in English, is very low impact and is suitable for everyone. It will include approximately 7 hours of classroom time and one hour of outdoor activity.

Q. What are the re-certification requirements for ALERT volunteers?
A. ALERT volunteers are asked to re-certify every TWO years through the SFFD NERT program and are required to attend at least ONE ALERT drill per calendar year to remain active.

Q. What do the ALERT re-certification drills consist of?
A. The drills will consist of various practical and classroom exercises to expand upon, reinforce and solidify the training and techniques taught during your initial certification. The drills also offer an opportunity for new skills and procedures to be introduced to volunteers as new requirements become necessary.

Q. How long is each ALERT re-certification drill?
A. The drills will vary in duration but typically will be around 4-5 hours. The drill duration will be announced well ahead of the drill date to allow you to add the drill into your schedule. Attendance for the entire drill duration will be required in order to re-certify in that drill.

Q. Are the ALERT drills conducted with the annual NERT drills?
A. No. To date ALERT and NERT have worked to ensure our drill dates do not conflict, to provide the best opportunity for volunteers to remain certified and active in both. We may conduct some joint drills in the future where you would be credited by the agency you represent during the drill.



Q. Where do I report to during a disaster if ALERT volunteers are activated?
A. ALERT has two principal assembly and deployment locations for volunteers during a disaster activation. WEST of Twin Peaks, make your way to Taraval Police Station at 2345 24th Avenue. EAST of Twin Peaks, make your way to the Special Operations Bureau at 17th St & De Haro Street.

Q. How will I know if ALERT volunteers are being activated?
A. The ALERT program will contact you by e-mail, text or voice-mail if any of these communications methods are available following a disaster. Alternatively, Emergency Broadcasts by radio stations will announce the activation of civilian volunteer Disaster Service Workers and may specifically mention NERT and ALERT volunteers.

Q. Once I’m certified as an ALERT volunteer, what happens next?
A. You will be eligible to participate in our regular ALERT Drills as well as participating in many other drills and multi-agency exercises. You can also take on supporting roles for ALERT by attending community events and meetings to promote ALERT and encourage new volunteers to join. You may also be asked to consider becoming an ALERT Team Lead, where you would guide a group of ALERT volunteers in the successful performance of an assigned task or tasks. Should a disaster occur, and ALERT be activated, then you would report to one of the two assembly areas for assignment and deployment.

Q. How do I decide whether to respond during a disaster activation as a NERT or ALERT volunteer?
A. Both the NERT and the ALERT programs recognize the considerable value in your donation of time and effort for each. Both also recognize that during a disaster activation it will be entirely your decision, based on many factors, to determine which agency to assist. Of course, you are not limited to volunteering for one or the other. You may find that you volunteer with one group and as you are no longer needed you may still be able to volunteer with the other if there is a continuing need.

Q. I am required to respond as a DSW as part of my employment obligations. Does it make sense to participate in ALERT if I won’t be able to respond with you during a disaster?
A. Absolutely. ALERT, like NERT, is significantly involved in pre-disaster planning, preparation and educational outreach. Your involvement and support of these efforts, your participation in our drills, and the knowledge you bring from your employment disaster response obligations are extremely valuable and you will have many opportunities to contribute in other ALERT functions beyond disaster response throughout the year.

Q. If I report to one of the ALERT assembly / deployment locations during a disaster response, what kinds of tasks might I be assigned?
A. You could be assigned to an administrative position at the Command Post (calling in all Police Reserves, signing-in volunteers, assisting with information in-take), or work closely with full-time and/or Reserve Police Officers who are deployed for traffic control, foot patrol of business and residential areas, report criminal activity, looting and property damage observation, work in partnership with NERT volunteers, assist with medical aid, deliver logistical supplies, secure resource locations, direct individuals to mass casualty and shelter locations, or assist at reunification centers.


For more information on the ALERT Program, go to or

email us at [email protected]; or call Sergeant Mark Hernandez (SFPD, Ret.), SFPD ALERT

Program Coordinator, at (415) 401-4615.