Emergency Management

A disaster or emergency can happen anywhere, at any time. In an emergency situation such as a major storm or earthquake, it will take time for emergency personnel to get to you. It is important to make sure you, your business, and school have personal emergency plans in place.

Who do you call during an emergency?

  • Emergency: Call 9-1-1
  • Police Non-Emergency: (206) 296-3311
  • Fire Non-Emergency: (206) 242-2040
  • Flooding, landslides, or fallen trees: Call Burien Public Works Department (206) 241-4647 between 8–5 p.m. Call 9-1-1 after business hours.
  • For emergency information on the radio tune into KIRO 97.3 FM, KIRO 710 AM, KOMO 1000 AM, or Burien Radio 540 AM

What is emergency management?

Burien is committed to being prepared in the event of an emergency. It is the governmental policy of the City to protect lives, property, the environment, and the economy during an emergency or disaster.

The City of Burien works with the Burien Police Department, Burien/Normandy Park Fire Department, utilities serving Burien, and other community partners to plan, respond, mitigate, and recover from emergencies. The City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) consists of the City’s leadership team and police and fire department leadership. The city manager oversees the activation of the EOC during a disaster.

Hazards in Burien

Below are known hazards in Burien. Share this information with your family and neighbors.

Earthquakes

The Puget Sound sits in a highly volatile geologic zone and experts consider earthquakes the most potentially damaging natural hazard for our region. In an earthquake, all of the city of Burien will experience potentially damaging ground shaking. It has the potential to cause major structural and/or non-structural damage to any building or facility that has not been retrofitted. Earthquakes can cause significant damage in the area and can trigger landslides, liquefaction of soil, and tsunamis.

What to do to prepare for an earthquake

  • Pick safe places in your home where you could drop, cover, and hold during an earthquake. Safe places could be under a sturdy table, desk or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture that could fall on you. Remember to do the same at work.
  • Practice drop, cover and hold. If you physically practice you’ll have a better chance of remembering what to do during a real earthquake.
  • Have a fire extinguisher available and know when and how to use it. Minimum recommended size: 2A:10BC.
  • Seismically safeguard your home. This could include securing items such as appliances, water heater, bookshelves, framed pictures, televisions and computers; installing cabinet latches, and securing valuable/sentimental breakable items to shelves with putty.
  • If your home was built before 1977, check to see if the frame is bolted to the foundation.
  • Prepare for the possibility of tsunamis, power outages, and landslides.
  • Visit ready.gov for more information.

Severe weather

Severe weather can affect all areas of Burien. Strong wind storms occur almost every year, causing trees to fall and power outages. Snow and ice storms are also common, and can cause treacherous driving conditions as well as downed trees and power outages.

Since the entire city is susceptible to severe weather, all critical infrastructure is considered exposed to severe weather. Given that electrical utilities and roads are most often affected by severe weather, all critical infrastructure managers and operators should plan for possible power outages and difficult ingress and egress. Some critical infrastructure, such as power lines, is actually more likely to be impacted or damaged as a result of severe weather.

Wildfire

Burien is an urbanized city but is susceptible to wildland fires that can destroy property and infrastructure. It is susceptible to fires as a result of the numerous steep slopes located throughout the city. Neighborhoods and parks near the coast all have vegetated areas located on slopes. These tend to be heavily vegetated and typically dry out during the summer.

Fires can be caused by the setting off of illegal fireworks. The possession and discharging of all fireworks is banned in Burien.

Air quality can be affected by rural wildifires, as occurred in the summer of 2017.

Hazardous material

Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons, and radioactive materials. Hazards can occur during production, storage, transportation, use or disposal.

A hazardous materials release in Burien can occur from two sources: from fixed sites (facilities that hold hazardous materials on site) and from transportation-related operations. Because of Burien’s proximity to the airport and the transportation routes that serve it, there are risks of a hazardous material release.

The cold storage facilities in the Northeast Redevelopment Area and gasoline stations are also concerns.

Landslides

The term landslide includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rock falls, deep failure of slopes, and shallow debris flows. There are a number of neighborhoods in Burien that are considered critical areas that are more prone to landslides. However, landslides can occur even outside a critical area.

Landslide Warning Signs

  • Springs, seeps, or saturated ground in areas that have not typically been wet before.
  • New cracks or unusual bulges in the ground, street pavements or sidewalks.
  • Soil moving away from foundations.
  • Ancillary structures such as decks and patios tilting and/or moving relative to the main house.
  • Tilting or cracking of concrete floors and foundations.
  • Broken water lines and other underground utilities.
  • Leaning telephone poles, trees, retaining walls, or fences.
  • Offset fence lines.
  • Sunken or down-dropped road beds.
  • Rapid increase in creek water levels, possibly accompanied by increased turbidity (soil content).
  • Sudden decrease in creek water levels though rain is still falling or just recently stopped.
  • Sticking doors and windows, and visible open spaces indicating jambs and frames out of plumb.
  • A faint rumbling sound that increases in volume is noticeable as the landslide nears.
  • Unusual sounds, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together, might indicate moving debris.
  • Visit USGS Landslide Hazards Program for more information.

Aviation accident

While the risk of a plane crash is very low, Burien’s proximity to the airport does mean that an aviation accident could impact the city. The majority of accidents occur immediately after take-off and before landing. The FAA acknowledges this danger and requires airports to create special emergency plans that detail how they would respond to a crash within five miles from their boundaries. Nationally, despite the hundreds of thousands of planes that fly over urban areas, the number of crashes that have killed or injured non-passengers is very small.

Flood

Flooding is not as much of a concern in Burien as it is in communities that are near rivers. However, there is the risk of some localized flooding during heavy winter rain storms. It is important to make sure you help the City prevent flooding by keeping your storm drains clear of leaves and other debris.

What to do to prepare for a flood

  • Learn the safest route from your home or business to high ground.
  • Make arrangements for housing in the event you need to evacuate your home.
  • Teach all family members how, where and when to turn off utilities.
  • Plan for a meeting place outside of the hazard area.
  • If it has been raining hard for several hours, or raining steadily for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
  • Consider purchasing one or more pumps to use to remove water in and around your home during heavy rains or flooding.
  • Prepare for severe storms and power outages which often accompany floods.
  • Review your flood insurance policies for structure and contents coverage. Don’t have insurance? Contact your insurance representative.

Volcanic eruption

Burien has low vulnerability to volcanic hazards. Tephras (ash and the large volcanic projectiles that erupt from a volcano) can potentially cause the most damage. Ash only on-half inch thick can impede the movement of most vehicles and disrupt transportation, communication, and utility systems. Tephra may cause eye and respiratory problems, particularly for those with existing medical conditions. Ash may also clog ventilation systems and other machinery. It is easily carried by winds and air currents remaining a hazard to machinery and transportation long after the eruption.

Gases from volcanic eruptions are usually too diluted to constitute danger to a person in normal health, the combination of acidic gas and ash may cause lung problems. Extremely heavy ash can clog breathing passages and cause death.

Tsunami

It is unlikely that a tsunami or seiche generated by a distant or Cascadia Subduction earthquake would result in much damage in Burien. One computer model suggests that a tsunami generated by such an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.5 would only be 0.2 to 0.4 meters in height when it reached the Seattle/Burien area. This results from the shielding of the Olympic Peninsula and the Puget Sound islands.

However, Puget Sound is vulnerable to tsunamis generated by local crustal earthquakes (such as along the Seattle fault or South Whidbey Island fault) or by submarine landslides triggered by earthquake shaking. This type of tsunami could impact Burien. The low-lying areas along the Puget Sound coastline could suffer damage.

There is a low probability of a tsunami or seiche occurring in Burien.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make sure I am prepared for an emergency?

Find information about dealing with several kinds of events, including windstorms, snowstorms, earthquakes, hazardous material spills, disease pandemics, and acts of terrorism, on our Preparedness page.

Where can I get CERT training?

CERT training gives you the skills to help save and sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives.

Visit the CERT page for more information.

When is flood season?

Flood season begins in October and ends in May.

When will my solid waste collection return after a snowstorm or other severe weather incident?

Missed collections of garbage, yard waste and recycling will be scheduled for the following week. Please protect your materials from blowing away by making sure bins are closed, and contact Recology at (206) 763-4444 if you have any questions.

Who do I contact to report a power outage?

Seattle City Light

Phone number (General)
(206) 684-3000

Phone number for outages and downed power lines
(206) 684-7400

Puget Sound Energy

Phone number (General)
(888) 225-5773

Phone number for downed power lines
(888) 225-5773

Who do I contact to report a downed tree?

If the tree is on a power line, contact the utility company (see above). If the tree is across a road, contact Burien City Hall at 206-241-4167 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. After business hours, call 9-1-1.

How can I stay up-to-date with the latest emergency information?

For emergency information on the radio tune into KIRO 97.3 FM, KIRO 710 AM, KOMO 1000 AM, or Burien Radio 540 AM.

ALERT King County

ALERT King Countykeeps the public informed about street and highway closures, weather, major transit disruptions, and provides updates on what agencies are doing to respond to emergencies and incidents. The public also can sign up to receive e-mail alerts and pager headlines from RPIN partners and get helpful tips to prepare for emergencies.

State Road Conditions (WSDOT)

Traffic alerts for roads around Washington state.

King County Road Services

Access to King County 24/7 Road Helpline, traffic alerts, traffic cameras and more.

Local School Closures

SchoolReport.org provides a report of school schedule changes due to adverse weather conditions and other emergency situations for member school districts, colleges, and private schools.

Metro Bus Schedules and Conditions

Check for the latest snow, ice, and flood transit alerts.

City of Burien on Twitter

The City of Burien uses Twitter to send out alerts.

National Weather Service

Forecasts, current conditions, climate information, radar and satellite imagery and more for localities throughout Washington state.

Where can I get help after an emergency (including house fire, flood, and other emergencies)?

There are a number of private and public agencies that can provide help. If you aren’t sure where to start, call 2-1-1. They can help connect you to the right service. Your property or renter’s insurance provider should also be able to help. The American Red Cross and FEMA.gov are also able to provide assistance.