Fire Code Changed To Limit Hazards To Area Fire Flows

Fire Code Changed To Limit Hazards To Area Fire Flows

An innovative concept whereby the fire fighting capabilities of the Indio, Calif., Fire Department and the capability of the city’s water system for fire suppression purposes will not be exceeded was adopted by ordinance at the May 1, 1974 meeting of the City Council.

This amendment to the 1973 edition of the Uniform Fire Code defines required fire flow as the rate of flow needed for fire fighting purposes to confine a major fire to a building or buildings within a block or other group complex.

The ordinance states that the chief of the fire department shall cause fire flows to be estimated for each new or remodeled building, group of buildings, occupancy or addition in accordance with the current edition of the “Guide for Determination of Required Fire Flows” published by the Insurance Services Office, or other nationally recognized method.

Results of required fire flows will be applied as appropriate to insure that the fire fighting capability of the city’s fire department and the maximum flow the water system can provide are not exceeded. This fire flow is presently stated as a maximum of 3000 gpm.

Excess fire flows

Where potential fire flows in excess of 3000 gpm may be required, consideration shall be given to structure separations, installation of automatic fire extinguishing systems, fire walls or other recognized elements to reduce the maximum amount of required fire flow to 3000 gpm.

This section was developed by Fire Chief Harold Denne and Fire Marshal Henry Withrow during approximately two years of research to provide a vehicle to cope with the real potential of overtaxing the city’s physical and monetary resources. Numerous meetings were held during which interaction of the city’s planning, police, building, public works and fire department staffs ultimately resulted in approval of the proposed ordinance by City Manager Phil Hawes and subsequent adoption by the City Council.

The determination of required fire flows is an element of good fire defense planning which must be accomplished for older areas of the city as well as new construction if conflagration-type fires within the city are to be handled by available manpower, equipment and water resources. By establishing a maximum 3000-gpm required fire flow in this rapidly growing community the ordinance will provide more economical fire protection for the citizens by placing fire protection costs more directly upon the premises requiring additional fire protection. It will permit more orderly planning for additional fire stations, manpower and equipment and prevent accelerated and possible substantial increases in taxes for fire protection to the citizens.

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Fire Code Changes

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This reasonable limitation will not be a deterrent to industry seeking to locate in the community as costs to the building of on-site fire protection features, if required, will be amortized in insurance costs in a very short period of time, after which the protection will remain effective with minimal costs to the owner. The limitation on fire flows does not affect the community’s capability of supplying required large volumes of water for manufacturing purposes.

The ordinance will also provide for a possible reduction in deficiency points on several items applicable to water supply during future grading of the city’s fire defenses by the Insurance Services Office.

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