Emergency Shut Off

For these procedures, Buildings One through Eight will have the same set of instructions and recommendations because their construction is almost identical. Building Nine, the reconstructed high school building, will have some separate instructions and recommendations.


Buildings One through Eight. Each unit in Buildings One through Eight has a main valve which shuts off the water in the individual unit. In buildings 1-6 and 8, the valve is located at the base of the street-facing side of each building and is usually in a pair (upper unit on the left and lower unit on the right).

Building Nine. The units in Building Nine do not have valves that cut off the water for each individual unit. The sinks and toilets in each unit do, however, have cutoff valves. To do major pipe work on a unit or to cut off the entire water supply to the building in case of an emergency, the water at the main valve on the east side of the building must be turned off. There are two wheel valves perpendicular to the ground on top of a pipe that rises out of the ground and connects to the building. To turn the water off, turn each valve wheel slowly clockwise. To turn the water back on, turn each valve wheel slowly counter-clockwise.

On the east side of Building 9. Clockwise=off, counter-clockwise=on


In an emergency, your gas can be turned off at the main gas service shutoff valve normally located near your gas meter. Using a 12- to 15-inch adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench or special suitable tool, give the valve a quarter turn in either direction; the valve is closed when the tang (the part you put the wrench on) is crosswise to the pipe.

  • Know where your main gas service shutoff valve is located.
  • Keep an adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench available to turn off the gas in case of an emergency.
  • Know how to shut off the gas at the building gas service shutoff valve.
  • Leave it off until service can be restored safely by PG & E or another qualified professional.

PG&EPG&E has helpful information on turning your gas off.

Buildings One through Eight. For units in Buildings One through Eight, the gas cutoff valve is right at the meter. The photo just below shows an example where the gas meters and cutoff valves are located for one of Buildings One through Eight.

Gas shut off valves outside buildings 1-8

Each of the Buildings One through Eight has an array of gas meters like this one. The main cutoff valve for the entire building is to the immediate left of the red A. Use an adjustable wrench or a special gas cutoff wrench to turn this valve a quarter turn until it is crosswise to the pipe. Note that each of the meters also has a cutoff valve for the unit which it serves. The electric meters for the units in this building are in the background to the left. The large metal cabinet at B contains the main circuit breaker for the building.

The drawing of all of UT (labelled G1) just below the locations of the cutoff valves themselves for each building with a red G.

Locations of gas shutoffs for Buildings 1-8

Building Nine. To cut off gas in the entire Building Nine, locate the gas pipe on the east side of the building (see the figure labelled G3 below), marked with the red G). Use a gas wrench or an adjustable wrench to turn the valve indicated in the second photo below . This valve is the one near the ground, painted orange. Vertical position: Open. Horizontal position: Closed.

Gas shutoff for Building 9The orange gas shut-off valve
on the east side of Building Nine.Vertical position Vertical bi-directional arrow = Open.Horizontal position Horizontal bi-directional arrow = Closed.

Gas appliances

Most gas appliances have a gas shut-off valve located near the appliance that lets you turn off the gas to that appliance only, instead of shutting off all gas at the main gas service shut-off valve. For example, in the laundry area in each unit, where we have a gas outlet for gas dryers, right at the wall, there is a valve cutoff which stops the flow of gas into the laundry area. In some cases, turning off the gas at the appliance’s shut-off valve will suffice if there is a gas leak, or if the appliance needs to be replaced or serviced.

To turn off the gas at the gas appliance, rotate the valve a quarter turn. You do not have to notify PG&E to turn this localized valve back on.

  • Know which of your appliances use natural gas.
  • Know where the appliance gas shutoff valves are located, and how to turn them off.


Each unit at UT has a circuit breaker in a box that is usually in or near the laundry area. Inside the circuit box are a master breaker and individual breakers for different lines in the unit. What do you do if you have to turn off the electricity for your entire building?

Buildings One through Eight. Each building has an array of electric meters and a master switch outside the building. The figure labelled E1 just below shows the locations, marked with a red E, of these meters. The master switch is located inside a gray box at each location. You may turn the electricity on or off without notifying PG&E, but the residents of your building should be warned.

Electricity for Buildings 1-8 

Building Nine. The master switch for this entire Building Nine is in the Tele/Elec Room in the storage area. You need a storage area key and the key to the Tele/Elec room. The master electric switch for the building is in the cabinet on the south wall.

Fire sprinklers — all buildings

The fire sprinklers in the units at UT are automatic; in other words, they open automatically in the event of a fire. Each sprinkler is has a fusible device which is activated by heat: the devices in the living spaces open at 155ºF, while those in attics and furnace closets open at 212ºF. Once open, the sprinkler discharges about 20 gallons of water (reportedly very dirty water since it’s been sitting in the pipes) per minute until the main control valve for the building is shut. When sprinklers discharge, the Berkeley Fire Department is called automatically and a fire alarm bell or horn will sound continuously.

Sprinklers may also open from physical damage, such as from being struck with a tool. Water damage from an accidental sprinkler discharge is substantial, in the neighborhood of $1,500 for each minute the sprinkler is discharging. For this reason, it is prudent to know the location of the sprinkler main control valve for your building. The sprinkler valve is not the water control valve for your unit described above.

There are two important components of the sprinkler riser:

  • Main control valve
  • Main drain valve

The main control valve, which looks like a small steering wheel, shown on the lower left in the next two photos below, shuts off the incoming water. To shut it, turn it several times in a clockwise direction. Once closed, there will remain 100 gallons or more trapped inside the building waiting to flow by gravity to the open sprinkler.

Opening the main drain valve, which looks like a large wing nut (on all buildings except Building Nine, where it looks like a lever), shown on the upper left in the next two photos below, allows that trapped water to empty outside the building. For Buildings One through Eight, to open the drain, turn it a 1/4-turn in a counter-clockwise direction. For Building Nine, turn the lever to the right and up, 180º around from its closed position, to open the drain.

If you know for certain that a sprinkler discharge is accidental (not caused by a fire), then proceed immediately to the sprinkler riser and close the main control valve, and open the main drain valve.

For all buildings except Building Nine. A ringing alarm bell at the sprinkler riser pipe located on the side of each building (see the next photo below) indicates a sprinkler is flowing somewhere inside the building. Flowing sprinklers will attract attention to themselves, but if no one is inside the unit with the flowing sprinkler, it may be necessary to wait for the Fire Department to arrive to find it. In any event, assume the sprinkler has been opened by a fire and allow the water to run until the fire is completely out. The firemen will break in to a house if necessary to find the fire and extinguish it. They will also shut off the sprinkler system once a fire is extinguished.

 Sprinklers for Buildings 1-8
The main riser pipe for the sprinkler system outside one of Buildings One through Eight.The main control valve, a small steering wheel, is on the lower left. Turn clockwise Clockwise arrow several turns to close.The main drain valve is on the upper right.
Turn counterclockwise Counter-clockwise arrow 1/4-turn to open.

Building Nine contains smoke detectors, alarm pull stations, and a sprinkler system, any of which may activate its fire alarm system. Go to the fire alarm panel display near the front door on the north side of the building to learn exactly what has caused the fire alarm. The Fire Department is called automatically by any type of fire alarm in Building Nine as well.

At Building Nine, the valves are in the recycle area. The main control valve, which again looks like a small steering wheel, works the same as the ones outside Buildings One through Eight. The main drain valve, on the other hand, looks like a lever which pivots at one end. Move this lever to the right and up, 180º around from its closed position. The photo below illustrates these two valves.

 Sprinklers for Building 9
The main riser pipe for the sprinkler system in Building Nine.The main control valve, a small steering wheel,
is on the lower left. Turn clockwise Clockwise arrow several turns to close.The main drain valve, a lever in the “down” p osition when it’s closed, is on the upper right. Move this lever to the right and up Counter-clockwise arrow,
180º around from its closed position.


 Irrigation cover
Green cover of irrigation control valves found around UT. Each controls a different location.Lift the cover and turn the black valve shaped like a four-leaf clover to right to close.
 Irrigation shutoff main valves
Irrigation shutoff main valves located at the northeast corner of Building Nine. Push both levers down to close the main valves.