Sprinkler ordinance never about wildfires


Three years ago, when county commissioners approved a fire sprinkler ordinance, the tone of the debate seemed trend toward how to slow down construction.

The ordinance required homes built more than 1,000 feet from the nearest fire hydrant and homes that are 5,000 square feet or larger to install sprinklers.

The ordinance allowed owners of manufactured homes to appeal the requirement to the county commission.

However, there has been some backlash from the building community against installing sprinklers based in part fact they aren’t that useful in protecting a home in a wildfire.

We made that point when the ordinance was first approved. Unless you’re going to install sprinklers that shoot out the sides of your house, it’s likely not going to survive a major conflagration.

When Douglas was approving its Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution, Commissioner Wes Rice pointed out that having a gun in the house is a lot faster when there’s trouble than waiting on the deputies to arrive.

That’s what the sprinklers are for, too. They’re a lot faster than the fire department when a fire breaks out in your home.

And if that home happens to be up in the trees, it also helps keep your house fire from spreading to the surrounding wildland, and maybe give firefighters time to save your neighbors’ homes.

Negotiations between the county and East Fork Fire Protection District after the first inkling the county might repeal the ordinance in its entirety have resulted in a compromise.

The revision would exempt manufactured homes or homes that are being replaced after a natural disaster from having to install sprinklers.

Nearly every home built in Douglas County is within the 1,000 feet, which is the maximum hose length, of a hydrant. Those that aren’t, especially those in the wildland, some distance from a firefighter, should take that into account.


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