Homeowners by own fire equipment

June 23, 2008 7:20:58 PM PDT
The early and destructive fire season is apparently prompting more homeowners to arm themselves with firefighting gear and equipment. However, is do-it-yourself firefighting going too far and potentially putting lives at risk?

There appears to be a run on professional firefighting equipment. The buyers are nervous homeowners who have seen devastating pictures of homes going up in flames on the internet and television, in one of the worst fire seasons in memory.

They're buying pumps, hoses, nozzles, fire gear, even foam.

K.C. Anderson works for L.N. Curtis and Sons, which is a major supplier of equipment and protective gear to fire depts.

He says many of these new citizen buyers live in homes farther away from firehouses.

"Now it takes longer to get out there, so a lot of homeowners are concerned they need to do initial fire protection," said Anderson.

Some homeowners are even buying adaptors that fit into city fire hydrants so they can hook up their own hoses. And with wrenches, they can get all the water they want.

In the Oakland hills this weekend, a citizens group that trained with Oakland Fire Department showed residents of a vulnerable neighborhood how to hook up their hoses to a city fire hydrant by using an adaptor. A firefighter gave the group his cautionary approval.

"Once things start to go [up in flames], it's time to get out of here," said a firefighter.

Some rural homes, during the Martin Fire in Santa Cruz, have their own reservoirs and fire hydrants. For them, their adaptors can help firefighters.

"Some homes are required to have adaptors so that the fire department can hook up to their connections if they're a rural customer of theirs," said Anderson.

However, most cities have regulations on the use of fire hydrants. Although fire officials ABC7 spoke with, agree that being prepared is the key, they're not talking about fighting fires.

"What we'd really like to see is people having an evacuation plan. We don't recommend people buying firefighting equipment themselves. I think it gives people a false sense of security," said Deputy Chief Rich Johnson, from the North County Fire Authority.

In other words, let the professionals do the firefighting.


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