Sprinkler rules may return from a different angle

A large home under construction above Jacks Valley Road.

A large home under construction above Jacks Valley Road.

Arguing that fire safety is the purview of the East Fork Fire Protection District, trustees voted to start work on district rules that would require sprinklers for homes built more than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant.

Douglas County commissioners are scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday on whether to repeal the ordinance.

While East Fork attorney Mark Forsberg said he believes state law absolutely allows the district to create its own rules, trustees were careful in how they approached the action.

Trustees John Bellona and Mike Somers said they were ready to go for it, but trustees Barbara Griffin, Bernie Curtis and Jacques Etchegoyhen were a little more circumspect.

Builders are advocating the repeal of the requirement citing the increased cost of construction.

East Fork Chief Tod Carlini told district trustees cost estimates promulgated by builders indicated a cost of $30-$50,000, while the district believes it’s closer to half that.

Of the more than 900 sprinkler audits the district has done, around 60 are located in places like Clear Creek where sprinklers are required by the homeowner’s association. Of the remaining number about 14 percent have been required to put in sprinklers, or around 120.

He was clear that home sprinklers aren’t designed to protect a home in a wildfire.

“Sprinkler systems are not going to prevent a home from being consumed by a fire like the Tamarack Fire,” he said. “They will prevent that fire from starting in the home and spreading for a fire like the Tamarack Fire.”

Most of the homes built in Douglas County are within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant. The distance refers to the length of hose on an engine.

Carlini said the goal was to provide the best fire protection across the district’s substantial size.

“We don’t have the resources to put a fire station in every neighborhood,” he said.

“We want our first fire engine to get on scene within eight minutes, 90 percent of the time with the balance of the first alarm arriving in 12 minutes.”



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