From the May 2011 Battle Mountain News

Post date: Jul 3, 2014 8:10:15 PM

Water for Fire

With the prospect of fire season at hand at the end of a long and wet rainy season, now is a good time to talk about how best to store that water and make it available for fire fighters.

At full blast, type II wildland fire engines, like the ones we have here in Bonny Doon, pump up to 750 gallons/minute, and type I urban fire engines up to 1,000 gal/min! These volumes are only possible, however, with either a water tender – we have one on the mountain – or hydrants attached to a municipal water system.

The historic rule of thumb for the minimum required to attempt to protect a structure, though, is 200 gal/min, for 20 minutes, fed by gravity. Since the presumption is we draw our domestic water from the same supply, older homes in Bonny Doon built with an eye toward fire safety typically have a 5,000 gallon tank. The current 2007 California Fire Code fire code introduced a margin of safety and requires 10,000 gallons and a hydrant for all new non-commercial construction.

Now, suppose that you have your tank and it is full, what do you have to do to make the water available for fire protection? A moment's thought makes it clear that a garden hose to the engine is not going to cut it. Typically, what is required is a 2 1/2” male outlet connection. Ideally, this should be 30” to 36” up on a hydrant, fed by a 4” line from your tank and painted red. It should be 6' to 8' from the access road or driveway and at least 50' and no more than 150' from the structure. Finally, you should be sure that Santa Cruz County Fire is aware of the location of the water supply and a blue reflector is placed by the adjacent roadway to assist out-of-town firefighters in a wildland fire.

For full details, including a handy diagram, visit the County Fire Marshall's website at

An Unexpected Windfall ... and We're Not Talking Tree Limbs

In mid April, the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County and the Bonny Doon, Soquel, and South Skyline Fire Safe Councils were stunned to learn that a fuel reduction partnership grant written and submitted last spring, before we had even officially come into existence, which had been turned down last summer, was fully funded. Since the Bonny Doon project was subsequently incorporated into another grant which we anticipate will be funded in July, we are working together with State Parks to build a demonstration shaded fuel break along the east side of Empire grade, between the frontages of Fall Creek opposite Pine Flat and Sunlit lane. We anticipate that work will start in autumn, and hope that the project inspires other private land owners to collaborate with us elsewhere.