Preliminary fire flow code introduced to county zoning board
In the last few years, Carbon County officials have been questioning what amount of water should be available from hydrants for emergency crews when fighting fires.
At the June meeting of the county planning and zoning board, director Dave Levanger introduced a document spelling out the possibilities for a code to put in force the requirements.
"This is just preliminary," said Levanger. "It is in no way final until more discussion on the matter takes place and the commission adopts it."
The issue of water for fire protection frequently arises when a new subdivision is planned.
Local fire departments are also concerned about the water available, particularly in some parts of the county, as it varies greatly from area to area.
The county staff came up with information acquired in conversations with local officials and the state fire marshal's office.
The staff also included various actions the county has taken in the past years concerning the issue.
In meetings concerning building and zoning as well as at county commission sessions, the problem of rural fire fighting has surfaced. That has been particularly true when people want to build cabins or mountain homes in areas with little or no water supply.
The staff took the situation into consideration and came up with the following information:
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire deaths in America have dropped from 35.8 per million in 1977 to 12.7 per million in 1999. This may be due partially to building code requirements for smoke detectors.
Utah has adopted the International Fire Code (IFC) without its attached appendices, leaving fire flow requirement decisions to local jurisdictions.
Carbon County's development code does not specify what flow requirements should be.
By law, fire departments are immune from liability while furnishing protection outside territorial limits when under contract.
Carbon County government currently contracts for fire protection from Price, Helper, Wellington and East Carbon City.
The county has the authority to adopt a standard for fire flow rates.
Appendix B of the IFC requires 1,000 gallons per minute (GPM) flow from a water system to adequately fight fires.
A reduction of 50 percent of the designated amount is allowed when an automatic fire sprinkling system is installed in a structure.
A county fire chief is authorized to reduce fire flow requirements for rural areas or small communities where full fire flow is impractical.
Neither the Price River Water Improvement District (PRWID) or other water purveyors in the county can supply 1,000 gallons per minute in all areas.
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality requires a minimum of 20 pounds per square inch (psi) peak instantaneous flow. The International Residential Code requires a minimum of 40 psi.
In the Scofield lake zone, the Pleasant Valley zone, the recreation, forestry and mining zone, the mining and grazing zone, the mountain range zone and water shed zones, the county allows the construction of dwellings on 40 to 112 acres with no fire protection requirements.
In 1997, the county lawmakers required developers of the Aspen Cove subdivision - located northwest of Scofield Reservoir- to install a freeze-less or yard hydrant within 30 feet of each dwelling.
The Urban/Wildlands Interface Code recommends that brush, trees and other fuel be cleared at least 30 feet from each individual dwelling or cabin.
Utah will require adoption of the county code in 2004 for entities to be eligible for state fire fighting funds.
Both the planning and zoning commission and the county commission determined that 200 GPM was appropriate for the Aspen Cove development in 1997.
With that information in hand the staff of the department came up with a new section for the development code that would include the following provisions:
The minimum fire flow standard for new subdivisions, recreation vehicle courts, hotels, motels and apartments, planned shopping centers, condominium projects, planned unit developments, factory built housing parks, commercial and industrial developments within the PRWID boundaries or served by other purveyors shall be a minimum of five hundred (500) gallons per minute, with a reduction allowed for the development after if the local fire department that provides protection approves.
A reduction to two hundred fifty (250) gallons per minute shall be allowed if all new dwellings constructed in the development are equipped with an automatic fire sprinkling system.
The minimum fire flow standard for new developments in the mining and grazing, recreation, forestry and mining, water shed, historic mining and mountain range zones shall be a minimum of 200 gallons per minute.
Examples of the projects include planned mountain home developments, mountain recreation developments, dude ranches, lodging houses, bed and breakfasts, guest cabins, commercial and industrial developments.
There will be no requirement for individual cabins, dwellings or accessory structures on existing lots of record or 40 acre lots.
The proposed development code fire flow addition continues on to state that individual projects or structures could have altered requirements if the county commission decides to grant requests from the developers.
The county commission's decisions will be based on the recommendations of the fire chief involved in the area in question or the planning board during the approval process for the developments.
The draft county fire flow code proposal will be considered by the planning board members and the matter will be discussed with possible approval at next month's meeting.
The Carbon commissioners must approve the final edition of the new proposed fire flow section of the county development code.