Wealthier communities with no fire hydrants require different firefighting tactics

A recent house fire in a large Barrington Hills home illustrates the issues present in fighting fires in wealthier suburbs:

In all, 40 fire companies from departments as far away as Hebron, Des Plaines, Hanover Park and West Chicago converged on Barrington Hills April 18 to blast the fire with hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. But instead of hooking their hoses to nearby hydrants, all of that water had to be brought in from elsewhere in trucks, ratcheting up the degree of difficulty for firefighters.

“Having to bring water in on wheels is time-consuming,” said Deputy Chief Rich May of the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District. “The planning behind it is done quite well, but you can’t move it like tapping into a fire hydrant. There’s just no comparison.”…

“Years ago we had a lot of natural-based materials in houses,” he said. “Nowadays, with all of the synthetic products in the homes, such as plastics, they burn hotter and burn faster.”

That means houses burn hotter and collapse sooner, Giordano added…

Given the village’s lack of water system and regulations requiring minimum lot sizes of 5 acres, it’s not likely Barrington Hills residents will see hydrants near their homes anytime soon. However, fire officials said there are some steps homeowners can take to help make firefighters’ jobs easier.

In other words, the wealthier nature of the community led to a lack of fire hydrants. This is a bit odd because homeowners here could probably afford the costs of a full water system but would not have wanted to pay the costs for it which were exacerbated by the large lot sizes. Yet, when they need to put out a fire, doesn’t this lack of paying upfront for the water system lead to financial consequences down the road? One of the suggestions in this article – sprinklers within each home – would help keep homeowners more responsible for fighting fires in homes built in such settings.

See earlier posts about the unique challenges of fighting fires in large homes or McMansions.

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