City debates fire hydrants and water trucks for public safety

— At Monday’s special-called meeting, the city’s Utilities Advisory Board (UAB) revealed that many Island fire hydrants cannot provide adequate protection for residents.

A memo prepared by the public works department explains, “the issue of concern is the distance between fire hydrants and certain residential properties. Many properties are not within 500 feet of a fire hydrant and some are in excess of 1,000 feet. City Council requested that the UAB review this issue and report back to City Council prior to establishing the FY11 Water and Sewer Department budget.”

“We consider this a safety issue and it should be addressed as soon as possible,” Ken Honecker, chairman of the UAB, explained to Council. “We took an outside of the box approach by recommending that 1,000 feet would cover us. Six million will get us to all fire hydrants in 1,000 feet.”

Honecker recommended borrowing from the general fund for the project and repayment of funds by the water and sewer department using operating funds.

Chairman Frank Recker asked of the number of inadequate hydrants, “Where is the hard evidence for this? Is it just anecdotal?”

An alternative to funding a utility project would be to provide the city with a fire truck equipped with a tanker/pumper, according to Mike Murphy, fire chief.

The tanker would be less expensive, costing about $250,000 per year to lease and staff, and would eliminate the issue of distance of fire hydrants.

“We had a fire call the other day. The house was 1,800 feet from the hydrant. That would have taken three trucks to get water to the scene if there had been a fire. You also have the consideration that the trucks are now not available for other calls,” explained Murphy.

“This is not an economic thing, this is a fire response. It bothers me that this wasn’t brought up when we were discussing the millage rate,” said Councilman Bill Trotter.

“Is it water capacity issue or a fire resource?” asked Councilman Larry Magel.

The tanker has other benefits. Murphy explained that the fire department had to borrow Golden Gate’s tanker last week during a water main break. The truck would also be a water source during hurricane disasters for issues such as power line wash down.

“I need to understand the financing a little better, but I don’t want to take too long because this is a safety issue,” said Trotter.

Further discussion of the issue was moved to the next Council meeting.

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Comments » 13

1Paradiselost writes:

Question how long would 3,000 gallons of water in a tanker truck last using a standard 2 inch fire hose. The Answer is, according to a friend up north who is a volunteer fireman, the answer is 3,000 gallons which is less that two minutes! $250,000 is a huge investment for 2 minutes of water. Tanker trucks are used in "Rural Areas" where no water exists. My suggestion is to buy more fire hose and use portable pumps using pool water. The average pool holds 18,000 gallons. Those same pumps could use salt water as a last resort. And how many more firefighters will we have to hire??

justthafax writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

Question how long would 3,000 gallons of water in a tanker truck last using a standard 2 inch fire hose. The Answer is, according to a friend up north who is a volunteer fireman, the answer is 3,000 gallons which is less that two minutes! $250,000 is a huge investment for 2 minutes of water. Tanker trucks are used in "Rural Areas" where no water exists. My suggestion is to buy more fire hose and use portable pumps using pool water. The average pool holds 18,000 gallons. Those same pumps could use salt water as a last resort. And how many more firefighters will we have to hire??

1. 2 inch hose is not standard, at least in Florida. It may be up north or elsewhere.

2. Using 2.5 inch hose, which is carried around here, you could expect an average flow rate of say 250 gallons per minute. This gives you much more than 2 minutes, when flowing continuously.

3. Using these calculations and showing how long the water will last at a given flow rate is misleading since water tender vehicles are typically not used to flow continuous or non-stop streams of water. The function of these vehicles is that of a portable hydrant or water source when a hydrant isn't close enough.

Garden variety fire trucks carry 750-1000 gallons of water. The tender we are discussing brings the ability to refill or pump to the fire trucks where the water is then distributed through the hose lines as needed. In some instances a water shuttle operation is used, where the tender fills up the tank on the fire trucks and when it runs empty, it goes and refills at a water source and comes back and starts over.

4. The pool pumping idea may sound good in theory, however it is not at all good in practice. This method would require more FF's as well. Using a portable pump from say a neighbors house, if available, requires someone to set it all up. It pumps less gpm over the longer distance. It is a burden and nuisance to the homeowner whose pool you have to get permission to use. The pool water and chemicals as well as salt water are corrosive to the pumps and to the pump parts and mechanics of the fire trucks as well.

In the end this way would wind up costing more in repairs and damages to fire trucks and their parts as well as to the pool cages, pool tile and decks, as inevitably there would be a nick here or there caused by all of this that the homeowner would want the city to fix.

This is akin to stepping over a dollar to save a dime.

Many areas that aren't strictly rural use these types of vehicles. Lack of adequate water supply and hydrants isn't not exclusive to outlying geography. It may even help your homeowners insurance rates due to added water capacity.

marco97 writes:

In 20 years I can't recall I house burning to the ground on this island. A four inch pipe should be more then enough for a single family home fire. This City just likes to spend money, the STRP was for the environment, the hydrants and six inch pipe are for our safety. If ths was such a big problem why was it not fixed years ago?

ed34145 writes:

So, should we listen to the amateurs or the professional?

1Paradiselost writes:

In response to Justhafax... From the site Grasonville Volunteer FD.

http://www.gvfd2.com/apparatus.php

Here is the pumper trucks specs, with pictures

Tanker 2

"Tanker 2 is a 2005 Spartan S&S 8 person enclosed cab 3,000-gallon elliptical tanker. This unit is powered by a 60 Series Detroit 515Hp with an Allison automatic transmission. Tanker 2 is equipped with a 1,250 GPM Waterous pump, 3,000 gallons of water, and 40 gallons of foam. The 8 person cab is equipped with air conditioning. It also has a 1 3/4” 300 ft crosslay and 150 ft and 200 ft 1 ¾” bumper lines"

Please note: The truck has a 1,250 gallon per min. pump. Simple math here "Justhafacts" 3,000 gallons lasts 2 mins. 15 seconds with a 1250 gallon per minute pump. And that is with a smaller diameter hose than Florida requires. I beleave a larger hose would empty the truck faster? The truck has a crew of 8 firefighters? How many will we have to hire?

Fossil writes:

How many fires have we had on Marco Island that the fire department could not put out? For that matter how many fires do we have that consumed a home because the hydrant was too far away?

justthafax writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

In response to Justhafax... From the site Grasonville Volunteer FD.

http://www.gvfd2.com/apparatus.php

Here is the pumper trucks specs, with pictures

Tanker 2

"Tanker 2 is a 2005 Spartan S&S 8 person enclosed cab 3,000-gallon elliptical tanker. This unit is powered by a 60 Series Detroit 515Hp with an Allison automatic transmission. Tanker 2 is equipped with a 1,250 GPM Waterous pump, 3,000 gallons of water, and 40 gallons of foam. The 8 person cab is equipped with air conditioning. It also has a 1 3/4” 300 ft crosslay and 150 ft and 200 ft 1 ¾” bumper lines"

Please note: The truck has a 1,250 gallon per min. pump. Simple math here "Justhafacts" 3,000 gallons lasts 2 mins. 15 seconds with a 1250 gallon per minute pump. And that is with a smaller diameter hose than Florida requires. I beleave a larger hose would empty the truck faster? The truck has a crew of 8 firefighters? How many will we have to hire?

Ok, I don't know why I am engaging again here. I guess because i can't stand to see false or uniformed information / opinions being tossed around.

Do a little more research. A pump has a rated capacity per manufacturer like an engine has a rated mpg or horsepower. It does not mean every time you pass water through it, it is flowing 1250 gpm. That is its rated capacity. Thats like saying no matter how far or what speed you drive you get the same miles per gallon.

On a fire truck or tender, the amount of water or gpm is calculated not by what the pump is rated at, but by the simple math of how many gallons are flowing through each of the several discharges / hose lines the pump feeds.

This means that with all of the possible lines flowing full blast, and on most trucks there could be 5 or 6 on average, you could expect a maximum efficient flowing capacity of 1250 gpm.

Look up the gpm flow rates for the hose lines in the description you listed. I am not making this up or looking for an argument. I simply think the facts should be put forth. I have no dog in the fight. I do have actual hands on working knowledge of the subject though, not just a friend up north that's a volunteer.

Additionally, speaking of capacities, just because a truck has room for 8 firefighters does not mean 8 staff it. My car supposedly has room for 5, but it rarely if ever carries more than 2. Water tender operations in the majority of areas are accomplished with one person assigned to that truck and unless it is a very large or well staffed department, when a water tender is called, a firefighter is pulled off of an engine or rescue and moved over to run that truck to said call. Tenders are not as a rule staffed every day. They are special call units.

ajm3s writes:

I guess JustthaFaxs is into hydraulics, yeah. But please do not diminish capacities, because they provide a basis of total throughput.

But my previous comments were removed so I will again state that economics are simply disregarded whenever there is the hint of safety in peril.

Please understand, the concept of mutual aid does not seem to get much credence in discussions at council meetings. They have a major bearing on cost (lowering overall cost while enhancing capacities). What is discussed is the impending doom that homeowners face in a post 1960's planned community, which by municipal standards in this great country is fairly modern.

Now can you speak economics? Because insurance companies are very adept at evaluating risk. So much so, they will actually assign a cost. Something I wish this council and its professional safety personnel could prepare. I know the cost of a tanker and three additional personnel to staff three shifts as requested earlier this year by Mr. Murphy. If I recall, a total of 900K.

Now what is the value of the risk we are diminishing?

I will ask again, how many incidences on this island have been compromised because a tanker was not available and a property was impacted. Essentially, can we begin with an exercise in quantifiable review of risk and the cost of eliminating this risk.

All I hear is we want it, must have it and gee wiz I do not understand why the citizens do not want it because it is for their benefit.

For the record: City adding a tanker will not reduce homeowners insurance rates. Being within 1000 ft of hydrant will.

Also, why were my previous comments removed? I did not use a swear word, at least I think I didn't.

Also, when saving property if the only source of water is a pool and a decision is made that the house or lives can be saved, then lo and behold it is no longer a dollars and cents decision; its a save lives or property decision. Action plan: DRAIN THE POOL.

Please bear in mind the professional nature of firefighting is quick actions that are generally set to protocols established by industry standards, coupled with second by second decision making with a clear command structure.

marco97 writes:

Ajm3s you posted your other comments at the link below.
http://www.marconews.com/news/2010/au...

ajm3s writes:

in response to marco97:

Ajm3s you posted your other comments at the link below.
http://www.marconews.com/news/2010/au...

Thanks, I thought I was losing it yesterday when I read this dated article and the comments from Condoseller etc. were missing.

As I age, I question my sanity and ability to understand the issues at hand. In any event, time to wash the car with my 50 ft water hose, which is more than adequate for the its intended purpose.

I hope my comments are not construed as an indictment against the professional firefighters and police that serve this island. I simply believe in honest risk management especially from top management. Is that not why they get paid the "big bucks".

It is a standard process and should be a mandatory process for safety review. We tend to paint safety issues with broad and overreaching comments like: "How much does it cost to save a life, if we saved one house because we had a water truck, it is worth it." Well, to counter this mindset, we should actually, review the # of incidences where this is applicable as a starting point, then assess what options are available and its associated costs. (Note: this review does not require a consultant, just do the math with some data from the incidence reports prepared locally, by state and nationally). In essence, how much am I paying for addressing a certain level of risk and how much does it cost if I wish to reduce risk exposure. It is not a black (voodoo) art or weird science.

In the end, we fail to recognize that private insurance industry serves this purpose coupled with state and national building codes, fire codes, etc. to maintain a standard to minimize hazards.

And all in an environment of a high velocity zone posed by hurricanes. Now that is a hazard which is met with strict building guidelines. And the standard is set at 140 mph.

Please no advisory committee, no consultant.

islandgma writes:

As a home owner and permanent resident of Marco Island I beg the city to please stop spending money, digging up roads, at least for a while won't you?! It is more rare these days to be able to enjoy a peaceful morning or day without the back up beeping or pounding heard off in the distance. And why all of a sudden is this an issue? Again, please stop the madness, take a break. We know City Council is there, there is no need to keep reminding us. I will vote for anybody running against any one of you if you people don't start to really listen to the residents and just have the "what can we do now" attitude.

condoseller writes:

Not sure why the Eagle wrote a second article on this subject and eliminated the postings from the first. I think my post to the first article still applies and hope Coucil will stop yet another spending spree that is related to the water/sewer utility. My original post:

"With all due respect (to Mr. Murphy), isn't the entire concept of "mutual aid" intended for one fire department to assist another when there is a need for equipment sharing and fire suppression support? If there was a fire and, three trucks were used to pump water to the fire, doesn't Isle of Capri and E. Naples send equipment over to support Marco should another incident happen? Mutual aid is an intentionally developed system so evuery fire department doesn't have to provide staff and& equipment to support every hypothetical situation considered.

As AJM has noted, for those homes living outside the 1,0000 foot distance, there is home owners insurance one is paying for. (I assume those homes pay a higher rate and knew of the distance to hydrants since that is a question on the insurance application form)

I suspect some of these unserved homes are in areas where the STRP construction has already been completed, missing the opportunity for project synergy.

Mr. Trotter correctly points out that this project was not on the table when the millage rate was discussed.

Please stop the sky is falling mentality and make a long range plan that fits within the budget process."

ajm3s writes:

Condoseller and et. al. are asking fair questions as to why the council and city personnel always create a heightened awareness of impending peril at this stage in the "development" of Marco Island. Consider this fire hydrant issue and the recent contingency funding of an oil spill.

http://www.marconews.com/news/2010/ju...

"City Manager Jim Riviere suggested an oil contingency of $1.2 million in case the spill were to reach near Marco’s shores requiring an emergency response that would not immediately be paid for by BP, the responsible party for the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion that led to oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico."

I will ask the council why was there a 1.2MM funding for a potential calamity of an oil spill to the budget. Again, there is no clear analysis of risk, yet we tie up monies that in essence are deemed for potential reimbursement? Is that the best use of an additional 1.2MM to the budget? For a risk that is of such an immense size that state and national efforts would be required. In fact, the protocol established in the Gulf Oil Spill by the federal government was that local and state agencies take their lead. It was stated that monies spent by local and state agencies without approval from the feds could result in lack of compensation. How many contingencies (local, state and federal) do we need? Is Marco Island going to enter the self-insurance catastrophic insurance market. And is it adequate because I have no idea how they arrived at that assessment. Again, I do not have much confidence in the city to evaluate risk since it has not been demonstrated in the past. Will this create a false sense of compensation or a chameleon fund (i.e. will fund other issues as they arise) or a means to manage the spending cap?

I understand the rational of taking action into our own hands, but if you rationally evaluate the value of setting aside 1.2MM dollars in this economic climate, I say the council and Dr. Riviere were way off the mark. And may be close to "chicken-little" decision making that is creating undue financial stress.

We all make choices in a climate of limited resources, that is what families and businesses do to survive and eventually grow. I wish municipalities would do so as well. How can we make the city council and management to care that it is ours?

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