In the firefighting world, decreasing the response time as well as increasing efficiency is very important. It is also necessary to make sure that the services can adapt to the local conditions, with these reasons which make every local fire department unique. But there are times that the response made by the local fire department can be used in other places. One example of this is the use of underground storage tank and dry hydrant that are commonly used in Scarborough or Maine Fire Department.
The Town of Scarborough in Maine is a coastal community, with 54 square/miles south of Portland. Because of industrialization, the population has been on the rise over the last few years, from 10,000 in the previous decade, to at least 20,000 in the past few years. The Scarborough Fire Department provides fire protection, with six stations, 17 frontline pieces of equipment and a staff of 150 personnel.
Scarborough is an exciting place when it comes to fire services. It is bisected by Interstate 95. To the east, you can find a mix of commercial, industrial buildings, suburban, and community water system with good quality and water pressure. On the west side is a rural mixed with the suburban area with little to no water supply. In the early to mid-1980s, places like Scarborough explore ways to give adequate water supply to the fire department to keep up with the boom in infrastructures. Most places installed an underground water tank with at least 10,000-gallon capacity. The underground water tank is so successful that most sites install at least 20 to 30 water tanks all over their community. The design is still based on the requirements set by local authorities. Every tank should carry at least 10,000 to 15,000-gallons of water that can cover at least five households in the subdivision or commercial buildings.
(To know more about laws and regulations on underground storage tanks, click here.)
Tank Design & Placement
Construction requirements will cover materials, design, installation and of course the hardware. The underground water tank is designed to withstand the weight and pressure above ground as well as the elements underground. In the most modern installation, the tank design has been changed so that water can be put in the tank easily if you need to replenish it during emergencies. The most popular materials used in the underground fire protection storage tank are stainless steel, lined concrete, fiberglass or concrete. There are other things that you need to take into consideration when you are installing an underground water storage tank. You need to check the quality of the soil around the area and the level of water tables. You also need to check if your tank will be protected from extreme cold or heat. Check if your piping and hardware meet the specific requirements set by the local authorities.
The location where the tank will be installed is also critical. As much as possible, the tank should be located near a roadway intersection, so it is easier to use when there’s an emergency. If the commercial area or subdivision requires more than one container, the tanks are placed 1,500 feet apart at most. According to state laws, the tanks are needed to be placed on property perimeters, so that the state can easily control them.
Once the fire protection storage tank is installed, it needs to wait 30 days before it can be used, to make sure that the tank doesn’t have cracks or leaks. Not only that, the installers should make sure that all installation and construction leftovers like rubber shavings, adhesive remnants, and tools are all cleaned out. The tanks are filled with water under the supervision of the fire department so they will know how much water the tank will hold or if the tank is full. One more thing, the tank should be full of water before any combustible materials can be bought on the site. Every tank is tied to the certificate of occupancy. So, the inspection department should cooperate with the fire department for this one.
Pros and Cons
There are many advantages to the tank can give to the community. Not like rivers or ponds, water in the tank is clean and free of stones and small branches that can destroy the water pumps and the screens. Not only that, because the water tank is covered, there’s a little evaporation happening during the summer or dry months, that way, you know that the container has water every time. Because the water tank is underground and it is inaccessible to the public, the community avoids any liability of outside sources. And lastly, because the water tank is 6 feet below the ground the lift for drafting is ideal.