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  1. #1
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    Default Southern California Fires

    Here are some amazing pictures of the fires in Southern California.

    How much would a generator/pump cost for those homes with pools? I bet some could have been saved.

    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/11/california_wildfires_yet_again.html

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    Brian

    Interesting, I had this very conversation just the other day, and couldn't figure out the owners would not have installed a sprinkler system. Given the expense of the homes and some of the celebrities located in the area, insurance issues...

    Roof Top Sprinkler Systems

    Cheers,


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    Brian,

    They already have pumps, and main drains (most pools have main drains) so they could suck every last bit of water out of those pools, all they would have needed was a small generator to big enough to run the pump and a separate sprinkler pipe system going up to the roof.

    They could have manually switched some valves from the pool piping system to the roof piping system, switch the pump over to generator power, and have had a good chance to save their homes. Would not take a large volume of water, just enough to keep wetting it as things fell on it, that would also make the pool water last longer.

    Let's say you are pumping 600 gallons per hour (that's 10 gallons a minute), and an average size pool is 15,000 gallons (those pools are likely much larger - say 18,000 gallons minimum average), that means you could pump for 30 hours. Install a cycling timer which pumps 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off, that would stretch the time to 60 hours. Figure two days protection of 48 hours and you could pump for 5 minutes on and 3 minutes off (not doing the math, just guesstimating).

    Generator = $1,500
    Sprinkler system = $500
    Controller = $150
    Installation = $1,500
    Cost = $3,650 add in overhead and profit, plus advertising, plus ... , plus ... , and you get a retail price of $10,000

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    I wouldn't want to rely on a generator, you get much more pressure and gpm from a gasoline powered fire pump then you ever would with just an electric pool pump.

    You have to factor in the head and friction loss of pumping water vertically to power the multiple sprinklers and 1.5" fire hose with a nozzle if needed, which I would not do without.

    With a fire pump you could also utilize a tank truck if you have no pool, or alternatively you could install a cistern poly tank.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    I wouldn't want to rely on a generator, you get much more pressure and gpm from a gasoline powered fire pump then you ever would with just an electric pool pump.

    You have to factor in the head and friction loss of pumping water vertically to power the multiple sprinklers and 1.5" fire hose with a nozzle if needed, which I would not do without.

    With a fire pump you could also utilize a tank truck if you have no pool, or alternatively you could install a cistern poly tank.
    You are now talking about something totally different than a roof mounted sprinkler system.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    Jerry

    Take a look at the link I provided above, there is an excellent photo of a house in the middle of a forest of tall spruce, this photo illustrates that roof sprinklers alone may not do the job.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    I grew up near the Sylmar fire. Those photos are really good. My hat is off to the brave firefighters, and the camera men and women.
    Probably have to rely on a generator, since the power goes out when these fires come through. Sprinklers would probably not even make any difference at all with some of these houses.


  8. #8
    Robert M. Schindler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    I am a So. California native and since 1971 have lived in a high fire hazard area. My home is stucco with a concrete tile roof (but that is no guarantee it will not burn). My home is on 1.59 acres and I have a defensible space around my home with no vegetation or trees that are fire risk species.

    Since 1971 we have had 3 major fires that have burned to within 100 feet of my home and I have had no loss. Some of my neighbors have lost their homes in those same fires. The fire crews have to make a quick assessment of your home as to is it defensible. I have had as many as 6 fire trucks parked on my private drive making a stand to protect my home and a neighbor has had none (home not defensible).

    Building exterior siding material and roof type are not the only hazards but also vegetation type and clear space clearance. When we have these fires they are during Santa Ana winds with speeds reaching 60-70 miles per hour or greater in the mountain canyon area where I live. Often the electricity is off when you need it. The use of sprinklers or even a garden hose is fruitless in these winds. I set up a number of large trash cans filled with water around my garage, home and barn/workshop with buckets or pans to dip water out to douse wind driven embers when they land. It will keep you busier than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs chasing down the embers.

    Most people that stay behind to defend their home are not aware of the intense heat and smoke they will endure. Protective clothing, respirator mask and goggles are a must. Donít forget a hat as your hair will torch off before your clothes. Donít ask me how I know.

    As an inspector and having inspected a number of homes that have burnt in the past they all have common issues. Tile roofs with slipped, broken tiles and improper weather blocking at hips, headwalls and ridges, opening or holes at eaves and vents allowing embers to enter. Many have wood fences attached to the home, garage doors not weather tight allowing embers in. Combustible fluids and materials, firewood stored next to the home, in the garage or patio.

    I would consider using a Class A "Aqueous Film-Forming Foam" as I have seen homes saved when covered by this foam.


  9. #9
    MaMa Mount's Avatar
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    AFTER SEEING ALL OF THOSE PICTURES OF THE FIRES I WILL PROBABLY PEE THE BED TONIGHT.

    MAMA MOUNT


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    Robert can you get insurance for fire?


  11. #11

    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    Looking at those pic's makes me want to go back to fighting fire. It seems there is more job security with that right now.........


  12. #12
    MaMa Mount's Avatar
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    I FEEL SORRY FOR ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE LOSING THEIR HOMES. WHAT ACTUALLY CAUSES THE FIRES. I ALWAYS HEAR OF THE SANTA ANNA WINDS BUT WHERE DOES THE FIRES START UP FROM.

    THERE IS NOTHING LIKE RAKING UP A BUNCH OF DEAD LEAVES AND SMELLING THEM BURNING. WE DO IT ALL THE TIME BUT WE HAVE NEVER LET IT GET OUT OF CONTROL.

    MAMA MOUNT


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Jerry

    Take a look at the link I provided above, there is an excellent photo of a house in the middle of a forest of tall spruce, this photo illustrates that roof sprinklers alone may not do the job.
    Raymond,

    I did when you posted it, and it shows that roof sprinklers do a darn good job.

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    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  14. #14
    Robert M. Schindler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Robert can you get insurance for fire?
    Yes, around $2500 a year. Half of that cost is for earthquake coverage.

    Most of the fires are arson set. We have Red Flag Alerts when the fire hazard is great, the fire department pre-stages extra equipment in my area. We also have a community watch group that during these time we will patrol looking for the bad guys. Have not found any yet but it will be ugly when they do.

    Last edited by Robert M. Schindler; 11-20-2008 at 06:49 PM.

  15. #15
    MaMa Mount's Avatar
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    I SAW THAT PICTURE TOO BUT I DON'T THINK THAT THE WATER SPRAYED THAT FAR OUT. LOOK AT THE GREEN TREES A BIT AWAY FROM THE HOUSE. NO WAY THAT WATER REACHED THAT FAR. I THINK THAT THE FIRE BURNED OUT OR WAS PUT OUT BEFORE IT GOT TO THE HOUSE. THE GOOD LORD WAS LOOKING OUT FOR THEM FOR SURE.

    I SURE AM WORDY TONIGHT. WAY TOO MUCH COFFEE AND CHOCOLATE CAKE I GUESS. SORRY

    MAMA MOUNT


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    Quote Originally Posted by MaMa Mount View Post
    I SAW THAT PICTURE TOO BUT I DON'T THINK THAT THE WATER SPRAYED THAT FAR OUT. LOOK AT THE GREEN TREES A BIT AWAY FROM THE HOUSE. NO WAY THAT WATER REACHED THAT FAR.

    Did you read it too? (underlining is mine)

    Unlike the sprinkler systems found inside buildings, these outdoor units are not intended to put out a fire. Instead, they work in the following manner:
    • Sprinklers are used to thoroughly wet down an area. This results in cumbustibles (buildings and landscape) being much less likely to ignite due to flying embers and the intense heat of a nearby fire.
    • The soaked landscape releases moisture into the air. This lowers the ambient temperature and increases the humidity level of the immediate area. These effects extend some distance above ground level. The result is that the advancing wildfire will tend to be deflected by this less supportive enviromnental pocket and pass by the protected property.
    • Sprinklers are most effective when in continual operation for 2 or more hours prior to the arrival of the fire. However, any operational time, even as little as an hour, will increase chances of a successful defense of the property.
    And this further down below:

    A rooftop sprinkler system is not just for fire protection. Because it is designed to provide gentle water distribution over a large area, it is a perfect means of keeping your landscape green and lush. On a hot summer day, it will even provide natural cooling - no need for an air conditioning system. Not only will your surroundings look attractive (when everything around you is dried and brown) but it will be fire safe.

    You don't need a fire pump pumping into a 1-1/2" fire hose, you are not "fighting the fire", you are "preventing the fire". It takes a lot less water, but for a longer time, to prevent a fire than it does to put one out.

    Thus having it come on and run a long time, just keeping everything wetted down, and keep wetting it down until you either run out of water to pump or run out of gas for the generator. Most small generators are not designed to run for long periods of time, their gas tanks are small for that reason, so you would need a longer run-time supply of gas.

    As with a fire pump in a building, you do not protect the circuit to save the fire pump, you allow the fire pump to burn itself up to save the building.

    With a smaller generator, who cares if the generator freezes up after two days of continuous running because it was only designed to run 4-6-8 hours, be shut off, cooled down, re-filled (you should never re-fill a hot generator due to risk of flash fire/ignition/explosion), instead you let that little bugger run, and run, and run, and run, and ker-klang it dies.

    Now, you could also buy a larger, more powerful generator which IS designed to run longer. Say something like a 12 kw propane fueled whole house generator. Install a 250 gallon buried tank and let that sucker run for 4-5 days before running out of fuel.

    The cost of those is negligible compared to losing your house. I installed a 16 kw one on our house in South Florida for hurricane power outages. Less than $6,000 to install it myself (for the generator and electrical) and including what I had to hire out - the gas tanks, gas lines, and the propane. Ran for 4 days on about $500 of propane, had 10% left when power came back on. And that was powering our entire house, and 4 neighbors to give them lights, refrigerators, and microwaves.

    For that pump? It would run a lot longer on the same fuel as it would never get off idle. Probably use about 1.2 gallons per hour at idle, 250 gallon tank gives about 200 gallons usable fuel, that's 200 gallons divided by 1.2 gallons per hour or about 167 hours, which is right at 7 days.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    Jerry good points but not compelling.

    Better to have a good fire pump and hose to reach tree tops, sprinklers may wet down the roof, but what about sides of the house, vegetation, tree tops and under brush, you want a good buffer. With a combination of sprinklers and hose you have your bases covered. The nozzle can be adjusted to mist spray to jet. You can control the flow and achieve low flow and high pressure without using a lot of water.

    In the scheme of things what would
    $10, 20, 30K be in comparison to a multimillion dollar home, the value of the contents, and emotional value. Seems like a small sum for piece of mind.


  18. #18
    Robert M. Schindler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Southern California Fires

    While trying to protect and save your home during a wild fire nothing compares to trying to get the livestock out during a fire. Loading two horses into a horse trailer at night with the wind blowing at 60+ mph, flying embers, heavy smoke, flames lighting the sky and the sound of sirens, air horns, radios and the flashing lights of nearby fire equipment will get your horses adrenaline pumping. During these times your gentle well trained steed will turn into the raging bronco from hell. After your first experience you will always have the trailer ready and load the animals at the first sign of smoke or danger, no waiting till the last moment.


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