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A Four Step Planning Process

Everyone understands that fire control in rural and suburban areas requires water. Everyone involved in fire protection should also understand that rural and suburban areas often lack an organized system of water mains and hydrants for fire fighting. It's just a matter of economics in an area of low population density - and thus of low tax revenues with which to pay for needed systems costs.

Water mains do provide drinking water to many rural and suburban areas, but the quantity of water in these systems often cannot support the greater flows needed for fire suppression .

Meanwhile, fires in these areas can be especially difficult to control. Fewer building code restrictions in non municipal areas can allow more fires to start. The low population density means that fires are more likely to ignite and grow without being detected in the early stages. Then the longer travel distance of responding emergency vehicles to a relatively remote area means that fires have more opportunity to grow to dangerous levels before any fire attack can be mounted.

For many years rural populations accepted the fact that they had no water mains and hydrants to help control most fires. Expectations are different now. Residents often assume that there is a higher level of service than currently exists or can be funded. Many rural residents moved there from cities where prompt and fully prepared fire protection was taken for granted. These new residents may pay lower taxes in rural areas and they may not have much experience with rural fire protection. But whenever they pay any amount for fire protection, whether through tax dollars or through donations, they expect the best protection possible.

Any of these factors intensifies the need for good preparation for fires in rural and suburban areas. All of these factors together make careful planning for essential water supplies critical for a fire department's success.

Planning is a multistep process. First, we'll show how you can identify the minimum water requirements needed to protect each structure.

Then, we'll take a look at sources of water, and how to pump water from them. Special attention will be given to dry hydrants , one of the most successful methods for closing the distance between the water source and the burning structure.

Finally, we'll go over some of the basic methods for delivering water to a burning structure.

1. How much water is needed?

Use the formula provided to calculate the minimum water supply needed for all structures in the jurisdiction.

2. Where is the water?

Conduct a survey of the entire jurisdiction to determine where all available water supplies are, and what the characteristics of each source are.

3. How can dry hydrants help?

Advantages of dry hydrant systems are presented, along with an outline for placement and construction decisions.

4. How can water be moved to the fire?

The role of mobile water supply vehicles is discussed, along with portable tanks, large diameter hose and examples of water distribution.

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