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Fire Protection Quandary

Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
We're committed to installing a fire protection system in our home, now the time comes to iron out the last details.

NFPA13D, local codes, etc. do not require it, but the local DPW is requiring us to install a separate fire line to the home, complete with a street-busting job, new curb-side valve, etc. In other words, big $$$.

Has anyone ever encountered the same issue and were you successful convincing the local authorities that this was not necessary? As best as we can tell, the main reason that the DPW wants separate lines is so they can cut off your water for non-payment without entering the house. Otherwise, it would be a lot simpler to oversize the line coming into the house.

I hope that proposing a Raimondo storage tank/booster pump will convince the local fire chief that a separate fire line is not necessary - all the water required for a 10 min fire snuffing (400 Gal) is thus on site with a battery-backup'ed booster pump (2hp). BTW, has anyone had any luck with <a href="">Raimondo</a>? Are there other brands and/or companies I should be aware of?

Also, what would be your preference:
<ol><li>Electrical booster pump system with battery backup</li>
<li>Pressure cylinder system with Nitrogen tank</li></ol>
..and why?


  • Firedragon_4
    Firedragon_4 Member Posts: 1,436
    You live in the People's Republic of Cantabridgia

    and you're surprised?????

    The best guy the Marshal's Office ever had just went to a local Department, let it go and put in smoke and CO detectors or expect a nightmare, FACT!
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    (sniff) Say it ain't so!

    And here I thought I was doing them a favor by installing active protection. Silly rabbit I am, I know.
  • Mad Dog
    Mad Dog Member Posts: 2,595
    Constantin...I did it in my house

    I was very fortunate. The local water district opened the street for me and tapped me a dedicated 2" SERVICE AND A CURB BOX plus a new 1" domestic since they were already down there. I ran it in to the house. I ran it out all in "L" copper with silver-brazed joints (stands up longer in a fire). My house has about 33 heads. I had to purchaSE the large 2" METER ($700.00) and RPZ AND PAY A $175.00 FEE!!!!!!! tHAT'S ALL. iF YOU CAN'T GET THEM TO DO IT, YOU NEED TO shame them in to it. Get the local Fire men behind you, politicians the news paper. They should at the very least defray the cost with you. Contact my Friend Mark Brommann who is a fire sprink engineer and writes the monthly article in PM Engineer - he may also have advice. [email protected] What kinda pipe? cpvc? steel pex? You are doing the right thing. Let me know if I v=can help in any way. Everytime you read about a fire in a home -especially deaths you will be glad you did it. Mad Dog

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  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    The local AHJ

    will have the final say. Sometimes this involves the Fire Marshal, building department, and waterworks. You are lucky to get the flow rates at your main!

    There are some issues with a large, say 2" main, for combined potable water and fire protection.

    The experts caution that a large line with low flow may not scour the line (low fps)and lead to growth on the pipe wall. The old legionella potential thing again!

    Years back some subdivisions in Kansas city had problems with PVC leaching where homes were built on the end of infrequently used 6" mains.

    This could be another reason they prefer seperate lines. Not to mention the cost of a 2" water meter, if they meter at the street or property line meter pit :) A large meter may not read accuratly at low faucet flows, also.

    hot rod

    hot rod

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  • ed wallace
    ed wallace Member Posts: 1,613
    fire protection system

    how much is the city trying to extort from you for curb busting and shut off ? someones got to pay for that fancy new pumping station at fresh pond only in the peoples republic would they build a pumping station where a person could view the pumps

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  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    Buddy! Stop!

    Quick as lightning! Go Weeezbo! Wirsbo fire=sprinkler system is Top o D Line! hooks right on to the water system on Your side of the meter. no huge gizmo with additional cost! get a one inch meter and Yah Buddy ! take offs to the cold water supply system down from a fire head. the muncipality charges you for a one inch meter rather than a3/4" big deal. call wirsbo now. i am here for you and will give you lotsa inside help:)heres the beauty of it..they Cant charge youfor the sprinkler system only the water used:) and hey it provides you with the Top o d line water supply at each fixture asw it is designed in such a way as to deliver the water from a one inch line within say 10 feet of any fixture! Trust me on this one. our burough gives a property tax deduction ...the insurance companies reluctantly reduce thier price tag,the banks Think It is the dealand i have been trying to get them to drop the interest payments like they do on energy star rated homes.5*+. Go with it and may the force be with you:)
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    I don't think that'll work...

    PEX is not approved for potable water use yet in MA... the local plumbers saw to it that PEX needs to be tested in several sites in-state before a decision is made whether to allow it or not for indoor residential use. Unfortunately, no matter how wise that choice may actually be, to the unitiated the whole thing looks like a whole bunch of cronyism to keep PEX out and Cu in.

    After all, PEX has been in residential use for years now in other states, what could make MA water or installation conditions so different from comparable other areas in the USA or Canada? Oh well... there is no sense banging my head on the wall about it, as I cannot wait for the codes to be changed.
  • jackchips_2
    jackchips_2 Member Posts: 1,338
    It is my understanding

    that the State Board in Ma. has mandated that anyone who wants to use PEX is to be considered a test site.

    You should have your plumber ask the inspector to check with Mr. Peluso, the Executive Director.
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928
    Keep Searching

    I'm 99.9% certain that there are residential suppression systems designed to work with small amounts of water, copper, iron, PEX, etc., pipe, and reasonably sized entrance lines (1" or so).

    Even in podunk MO with lots of limestone ledges, our water dept. runs sub-street lines in existing neighborhoods with a pneumatically powered "rocket". When I had my new entrances run (2 x 1"; 1 domestic; 1 irrigation) am fairly certain they told me that such would work up to at least 1 1/2". Probably larger as they pulled both of the 1" lines at once.

  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    Mike, NFPA

    has a bunch of different design criteria. Generally 13D covers residential. In my area of Utah the AHJ had us use a modified 13D. Basically they had us "prove" the 4 most remote (hydraulically speaking) heads flowing at once! This took some serious piping size, even at 125 - 150 incoming psi.

    Generally these jobs had 2" piping throughout with 1" branches to every heat.

    Homes without exterior heads for exposure hazard would only need to prove 2 heads flowing.

    It all depends on what exactly the AHJ in an area defines. Even if NFPA is the State, or local, approved code, the AHJ can modify it to suit their wants and needs.

    It's always best to hire a licensed, sprinkler designer to draw up an approved plan. They will know exactly what is required in various areas. Even then most building depts will send the plans to another "plan check" engineer for approval if they do not have inhouse staff to handle plan checks.

    In our area the designer stamped the plans, the plan check engineer, then the building department. Before any permits were issued.

    Most areas take fire supression design very seriously. And they should!

    hot rod

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  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    Hmmmm..... So,Like me you can get all the firemarshalls,

    inspectors state inspectors local contractors and local home owners building association to come to Your installation:) just let them know you are doing it and tell them the inventor of the system will be there etc.etc.:) Just Do It! :) call wirsbo and ask Franz Hass to help. he is a great Guy and you will have Made a very cool statement in your state:)
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    Rather than bug the plumber,

    I wrote to the board for an explanation of the current situation. For example, I inquired what it would entail to become a test site. Let's see what they say by mid-week...
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    shrewd .....:)

    say have you ever used a gronfoss pump plan? i was wondering if its use in a large commercial recirc domestic hot water system was your choise or did you try it as a means of tempering hydronic returns,or some other application.?
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    Thanks for the reply, Mike!

    Yeah, they'll probably jack the new line without opening the entire street. However, the main runs under the street, so the street has to be opened (big $$$, due to all sorts of regulations, not the act in itself).

    Then a new shutoff would have to be installed. Under a brick-paved sidewalk. More $$$. Once inside the building, I get to enjoy another water system, on another $$$ meter, etc. You get the picture. Weezbos idea of investigating the AquaSafe system bears consideration...

    However, I would want to research the safeness of that approach before committing to it... one the one hand it would be great to do an end-run around the local regulations. On the other hand, I always worry a bit about the thought of stagnant water systems sharing the same connections as my potable stuff. Yes, I know that with the right design this should not be an issue, but consider that folks in MA have not widely used or applied AquaPEX or AquaSAFE to the best of my knowledge.

    What I am hoping is that by offering to have the water on-site with a pressure pump that the fire folks in Cambridge will rally to our side. Once the need for a large feeder line is eliminated, the cost of the on-site system starts to become interesting. Besides, in a real emergency its probably best to have the water on-site anyway...
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    Yup, 2 heads flowing...

    We have a licensed designer on board. That's where the Raimondo system came from. He seems very competent and well-rehearsed with respect to local codes (both state and city). However, I also wanted to tap into the vast collective wisdom of the wall to see if there was something he/I had missed... after all, it's easiest to keep doing things the way you always have rather than trying something new!
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    Thanks for the encouragement, Mad Dog

    I hope that the whole affair turns out to be less of a headache and less costly in the end than it currently looks to be. I'll note our progress as we go along. However, I marvel at the low cost of your meter. The last time I checked, a meter half the size of yours (i.e. 1 1/4") allegedly cost 2x more around here... like Ed said, there is a new waterworks to pay for.

    Currently, I'm of the mind to use Blazemaster piping simply because I don't ever expect joist/wall cavities to get that hot before the fire is put out. Furthermore, I see the built-in fire protection system as a temporary measure, giving my family and friends enough time to get out before the fire engines arrive (the fire station is maybe 2 minutes down the road, we have a central alarm system, etc.). Hopefully, the internal system will have taken care of the problem by then, but the boys in Red may get to have some fun also!

    Also many thanks for your friend's e-mail address. I will attempt to contact Mark over the weekend and see what advice he can share with us. It's truly great to see how many minds can come up with some very innovative solutions when working together.
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    I don't even want to know

    Yes, that new waterworks seems to be exerting inflationary pressures on water and equipment pricing around here. On the other hand, I have met some very nice people working in that department. Thus, I think a conciliatory approach is probably the best one. After all, they pretty much have me over a barrel unless I never want to move in.
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    I got to pay for those flow rates...

    $100 for 15 minutes of work. On the other hand, the two DPW professionals they sent by to do it came on time, were friendly, and left us with a document that captured all the data. Considering the cost of unionized labor around here, I probably just carried their costs.

    I can also see how large pipe and meter sizes could be detrimental as far as health and flow measurement is concerned. However, with the Raimondo system there would be no need for a separate water feed during a fire since the water for 10 min of sprinkling (at 2 heads ~300-400 Gal) would be stored on-site.

    Oh, and I get to pay for the water meter. The last time I checked (and this may be terribly inaccurate) the cost was something like $1400 for a 1 1/4" meter.
This discussion has been closed.