SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco firefighter and paramedic Jason Cortez, 42, died after a training exercise accident on October 7. A report released by the San Francisco Fire Department on Sunday, October 11, indicates that he died after he was knocked off a fire escape when water shot out of a valve. 

On Wednesday, October 7, the SFFD Engine 3 conducted a probationary firefighter pump drill for the Standpipe Evaluation alone. Due to the COVID-19 safe protocols, each firefighter had to perform tasks by themselves. 

Cortez was participating in the drill at 10 a.m., working on a third-floor fire escape of the Division of Training on Folsom Street, when he opened the valve. A hose was not attached to the valve, so a blast of water struck him in the chest, knocking him backwards over the fire escape.

Cortez was treated on scene for critical, traumatic injuries and taken to the San Francisco General Hospital. He was later pronounced dead later in the day.

The San Francisco Fire Department started an official GoFundMe for his wife and children. While they set the goal as $75,000, a total of $244,506 had been raised by Monday, October 12. 

Cortez leaves behind his wife Patricia, sons Jackson and Greyson and other family members. He grew up in Potrero Hill and played D1 basketball at St. Mary’s in Moraga. After completing paramedic school at City College of San Francisco and working for American Medical Response in Oakland, he joined the SFFD in 2007. 

In January 2019, Jason moved to Station 3 in the Tenderloin District. He had been working for Engine 3 as a firefighter and paramedic. The GoFundMe description by SFFD Station 3 reads:

“He was especially known for always conducting himself with professionalism and integrity. He worked hard, was respected by his colleagues and loved by all.”