More fire sprinklers urged

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals He pointed to increasing cases of multiple families living in single-family homes in the county. The increased population density can lead to residential fire deaths that sprinklers could help prevent, he said. One of the worst examples of what can happen in crowded conditions was a January fire in a three-bedroom Simi Valley home where 13 people were living. One man eventually died in the hospital as a result of injuries from that fire. Diane Morgan, Ventura County’s fire marshal, agreed that fire sprinklers have proven to be lifesavers and advocated their use wherever possible. “As a fire marshal, what I want is to fire sprinkler everything we build,” she said. “I would like to have sprinklers wherever there are people living or working.” It costs $1.50 per square foot or $150 per sprinkler to install them in new structures, Morgan said, but putting them in existing homes can be more expensive depending on how difficult it is in each case. The cities of Oxnard, Ventura and Santa Paula already have laws requiring sprinklers in new residential and commercial structures. The ideas for sprinklers and extending brush clearance were part of the Ventura County Fire Department’s proposal offered to supervisors Tuesday as part of an effort to improve fire safety in the county from 2006 to 2011. Morgan said the Topanga Fire in October that burned about 24,000 acres from Simi Valley to Agoura Hills and the Nov. 18 fire that burned 4,000 acres along the hills above Ventura demonstrate the importance of brush clearance. “I have no doubt we would have lost numerous homes in each one of those fires without the brush clearance,” she said. Brush is now required to be cleared 100 feet from any structure. Fire officials said they’d like to see that upped to 200 feet, at least in some cases. Firefighters already recommend that distance in Bell Canyon, which is in Ventura County. Supervisor Linda Parks said she has met with Bell Canyon residents who appear to support the 200-foot clearance to protect their neighborhood. Failure to clear brush in Ventura County can be expensive, costing thousands of dollars. Residents can clear the brush themselves, or the Fire Department will do it for them, charging them for the cost of clearing plus a $650 administrative fee. Roper said fire sprinklers, like brush clearance, can be particularly valuable in outlying developments that are farther from fire stations than more urban neighborhoods. “We can never get a fire engine to every house, so the best thing we can do is have a fuel-abatement program,” he said. “In certain areas we need to have a large brush clearance area on a case-by-case basis.” As for fire sprinklers, he said the county might not be able to build fire stations in all outlying areas, so the sprinklers would be particularly valuable. “We know they work and we know they save lives,” she said. “Someday maybe my children and my children’s children will live in a totally fire-safe environment.” Eric Leach, (805) 583-7602 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VENTURA – Firefighters in Ventura County would like to see sprinklers installed in new single-family homes and have brush cleared as far as 200 feet from some residences as part of a long-term effort to save lives and reduce property damage. Bob Roper, chief of the Ventura County Fire Department, told the county’s Board of Supervisors of the plans last week and said he would make a formal recommendation for a new sprinkler ordinance next year. The ordinance would make sprinklers mandatory in new home construction but would not apply to existing homes, he said. Ventura County already requires sprinklers in structures of more than 5,000 square feet. “The number of fire deaths could be greatly reduced,” Roper told the board. last_img read more