One of our biggest accomplishments has been to design, fund, and construct and incredible fire-suppression system, resulting in two high-pressured, high-flow, and high-volume (and currently bright red) fire hydrants, as required by the Shasta County Fire Codes and Fire Marshal’s interpretations of the evolving fire codes. Over the years of this substantial development project, the fire codes and fire marshals have changed more than once, so the process has involved significant designing and re-designing of the system, as we negotiate with the authorities and gradually build the system. In the fall of 2019, a massive undertaking to dig trenches for a six-inch main water line from the new water storage tanks was successfully completed, to carry the water to (and install) the new fire hydrants.
With several complications along the way, the problems were skillfully resolved, and the job continued until the trenches were dug and the pipes were laid in the in the ground and connected (including pipe joint tests, complex thrust blocks, and carefully connecting each section of pipe), all in the precise ways called for by the codes and plans. The underground pipeline runs under a steep road (“Tank Road”), through some brushy areas, then down a steep embankment above the bridge (in the geothermal zone), across the creek (pipe is insulated and affixed to the bridge beams), and finally up to the lower hydrant by the garden and central plaza!
After finalizing all the connections and having the long pipeline done, the fire hydrants were installed. County inspectors checked the quality of the work at each stage. After the system was completed and tested, the final inspection allowed us to backfill the trenches and bury the immense water lines, terminating at the fire hydrants. Later, the Shasta County Fire Marshal came out for the final working inspection, with a special technician to verify the whole system functions properly and within the minimum requirements. They tested the flow rate and the water pressure, with the 120,ooo gallons of gravity-fed spring water stored and ready for fighting a fire that we hope will never need to be used…
Thanks to good planning, design, engineering, mathematics, physics, and the great work of BBHSP staff and contractor Allen Gill and his crew, the system works great. We passed the final inspection and now we have the most powerful and elaborate fire suppression system in Big Bend! In order to pass the Fire Marshal’s inspection and the new fire codes in this high-risk fire area of the County, the hydrants were required to have at least 1000 GPM (Gallons Per Minute), which is a huge flow rate, by most standards. The inspection test came in at a 1,470 GPM flow rate, with 87 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch), which is a force and flow that is mind boggling, and there are no pumps or electricity involved in the system- just a lot of water, a long steep drop in elevation, and good old GRAVITY!
Next, our Site Coordinator and gifted builder Sy, constructed fire equipment storage boxes next to each hydrant to house easily accessible fittings, hydrant operation wrenches, spray nozzles, and three hundred feet of fire hose, just in case we need to activate the hydrants before the fire trucks arrive. Our buildings are build with fire-resistant materials, but if there is ever a fire that needs to be extinguished with incredible amounts of water and water pressure, we will be ready and able! (We also have portable regular fire extinguishers all over the property and in vehicles- Just in case!)
Here is the summary report from our newsletter draft:
In August of 2019, BBHSP finally completed a huge project that is an essential piece of the puzzle on the path to re-opening! After many years of planning, engineering, fund-raising, working with contractors and BBHSP staff, we completed the huge and state-of-the-art Fire Suppression System (required by Shasta County commercial fire codes), which could save lives and out precious forest and infrastructure.
The Fire Marshal was on site for two different inspections of the final phase of designing, building, and installing the new fire-suppression system, which has three major components:
1. Water Storage: Three huge bolted steel water tanks located hight up on the hillside with 120,000 gallons of storage!
2. Bridge/ Conduit: A new pedestrian bridge spanning nearly 80 feet across Indian Springs Creek, which carries the six-inch water main and several other water and electrical pipes.
3. Plumbing: A huge large-scale system of hundreds of feet of buried six-inch water pipes, thrust blocks, connections, covered access points, and the two fire hydrants at the end of the lines.
The result is an incredible high-capacity, high-pressure, and high-flow gravity-fed system that will allow firefighters to have plenty of water, just in case. We are overjoyed and relieved to finally have this work done, and the new system in place. This is a huge milestone for the project, and these three items have been the most challenging parts of the improvements required for re-opening!
Now that the Fire Suppression system is completed, tested, and officially approved, we are focusing on making small improvements in the water tank workings and ongoing maintenance, while finishing the other key components needed to fulfill the project goals to protect and share this special place. Part of that is to have additional underground water piped for cold and hot water, and the conduit ready to pull electrical and communication lines, where needed. We did it, by thinking ahead and without additional trenching needed!