Monday, February 22, 2016

Lack of hydrants in rural Idaho crimps firefighting

A lack of fire hydrants is hampering local firefighters in rural Caldwell, Idaho (Best Places map), where they have a coverage area of 135 square miles and receive 5,000 calls per year, one-third of them to areas without a hydrant, Ruth Brown reports for the Idaho Press-Tribune. A December fire at a goat farm destroyed a milk parlor, processing room and milk tank, causing $500,000 in damage—not including money lost while operations were shut down—despite at least five agencies responding to the blaze.

Caldwell Fire Department chief Bud Bryson said each engine "that responds to a scene can carry about 500 to 1,000 gallons of water," Brown writes. "If a water tender is brought, it carries another 1,500 to 3,500 gallons of water. Additionally, Caldwell fire crews carry compressed air foam, which is used in extinguishing fires when the blanket of foam put on the fire serves in heat absorption." The foam "can have about five times more extinguishing power than water." Fire officials recommend that homeowners "set up a rural water supply, such as a connection to a pool that firefighters can take water from." Also, those constructing homes in rural areas should build residential fire sprinklers that are "are built into the home and dispense water when heat is detected."

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