Our beautiful close‐knit neighborhood with its narrow tree‐lined streets and little to no side‐yards can be the Fire Department’s worst nightmare when they need to quickly access our community in an emergency. A Fire Department representative attended the Bryan Place October 2010 general meeting to discuss the obstacles they have in navigating through a neighborhood such as ours and what we can do to help them keep our neighborhood safe (portions of the following were taken from the November 2010 Bryan Place newsletter).
Keep trees trimmed at a decent height close to the street in order to provide enough clearance for the fire truck to maneuver through the neighborhood.
Plants around fire hydrants should be removed so the fire hydrants can be easily seen by the firemen (do not try to hide or disguise the hydrants).
Firemen only have an address to find their destination, so it is very important for the address to be visible and easily readable.
Vehicles should never block a fire hydrant and should park at least 10 feet away on either side of the hydrants. Enough room should be available for the firemen to maneuver around the fire hydrant.
The most formidable obstacle they experience in Bryan Place is parked cars on the street that block their access to ourommunity. Since our streets are extra narrow anyway, it is very important to be aware of other parked cars in relation to where you are parking when you (or your guests) are parking on the street. When possible, park in your garage or driveway to free up space on the street. Also, please do not park at the neck of a corner or cul‐de‐sac.
The firemen made a point of reminding residents that outdoor grills should not be located close to a wooden fence or wood siding. Grills should not be within 10 feet of anything that could burn or left unattended. Please be aware of where your grill is located and how a sudden gust of wind or grease fire could endanger the whole community. Since th original Fox & Jacobs BP homes were built with interior fire sprinklers (see August 2015 newsletter), hopefully, most indoor fires will be extinguished or controlled by the existing sprinklers. Fires starting outdoors can spread very quickly from a wood fence to the eave of your home and then on to your neighbor’s home. The last major fire in our community originated outdoors and quickly spread to three other homes causing a considerable amount of damage.
So please take a minute and walk through your property to see if you can make it safer for you and your community. The house or life you save may be your own.
Fox and Jacobs installed home fire sprinkler systems in Bryan Place to help offset the inherent fire risks associated with the density of the development. I have been told by several sources (including my plumber) that our sprinkler systems are tied directly into our home’s plumbing system without a separate cutoff valve. Each individual sprinkler head is activated by a heat sensor independent of the other sprinkler heads i.e., if there is a fire in the kitchen, only the kitchen sprinkler head will activate. This is by design, since the goal is to supply the maximum amount of water to the fire. If all the sprinklers go off at the same time, the water pressure will be substantially reduced to the target area.
Our sprinkler systems are now about 35 years old, and there has been concern by residents that the current systems may be outdated and/or ineffective. I asked Urban Fire Protection (972‐636‐2800, Ryan Pfuhl, email@example.com) about these concerns and was told that new systems typically operate with a cutoff valve and require a larger water main than most of our homes currently have. The larger water line is needed to accommodate the new sprinkler heads which are designed to put out more water than the old sprinkler heads. The new sprinkler heads are individually heat activated just like the old sprinkler heads. Most new systems also have an outdoor “test” feature by which water is triggered to flow outdoors to test the water pressure to the sprinkler heads (our systems do not have this feature). Of course, each project is unique, but Urban Fire Protection estimated that a retro‐fit to a new sprinkler system would cost about $3.50/s.f. based on the size of the home. The primary advantages of the new systems include the higher water output of the sprinkler heads and the ability to test the water pressure to the system.
Sprinkler System Inspections
Home insurance companies offer an insurance premium discount for homes with a fire sprinkler system. I have found that the discounts and requirements to obtain these discounts can vary greatly from company to company, so you may want to check with your insurance agent. The BPNA has organized group fire sprinkler system inspections twice over the past twenty years.
For those residents interested in an inspection of their sprinkler systems, we have been offered a group discount from Urban Fire Protection to come out on a Saturday in late August or early September. These inspections will include a visual inspection of each sprinkler head in your home, take 15‐20 minutes, cost $150 ($250 if you have it done individually) and they will provide you with an inspection certificate for your insurance company. If you are interested in an inspection or have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .