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Can Fire approval stop a build after permits are issued?

Posted by redheadeddaughter (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 12:39

Or more specifically. Once the county has approved all the plans, septic, water, zoning, etc. can (or will) the Fire Department come in and put a stop to the process if there is not turnaround and no space for a turnaround. Can a site be completely buildable but the driveway issue (length of driveway, etc.) put a stop to everything? The county also requires sprinklers for all new builds (which is fine) and a hydrant. The code itself can be interpreted a number of different ways, and we can't seem to find anyone with a hard and fast rule on this particular lot. Even land use consultants don't know.

Wondering if any more rural GW builders might have had experience with this? The Fire permit approval is the last one to get in our county and they won't comment on it or walk the site or discuss until that point. Of course after tons of money has been spent. Obviously the smart answer is to find a parcel that does not have a question mark in this regard, but in our neck of the woods land (and homes) are rare and we are trying to make this work. Would love to hear any stories!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Can Fire approval stop a build after permits are issued?

It should not be difficult to find the standards the Fire Service uses to determine if the site plan is adequate; it should be public information.

I live in a suburb and the plans examiner from the local fire dept. must approve the drawings before the building department will even accept them for their review.

Both authorities enforce state and local laws and those laws should be available to anyone who wants to see them. I've never had any trouble getting full cooperation from any fire service and I've built in many jurisdictions in many states.


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RE: Can Fire approval stop a build after permits are issued?

why not ask the powers that be in your area?
seems a much more direct route to get the
answers you need, rather than just speculation
& pov's from others in different areas.

best of luck.


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RE: Can Fire approval stop a build after permits are issued?

Yes. All good advice. We have asked the powers that be and we are getting very fuzzy answers. It's a mountainous area and the county is clear on many issues, but not this one. They defer to fire, and fire refuses to comment (at all apart from the code itself, they say because of liability issues?) on the site until they see it through the permitting process. So very muddy. Trying to gather as much information simultaneously while we are still in the contingency period. That is why I posted here. We are obviously trying to get more professional answers like land use consultants and engineers but they are slow in coming.

For instance, if we have an engineer that says its doable and we go through the permitting process, what I'm trying to find out is this: Does the fire department stop the ability to build any house on a piece of property like this or do they try and work out a solution. Cost of road is not an issue, It's a slope/drainage/erosion one I believe.

Anyway. Thought I'd give it a try. So much help to be had on this board. Thanks for the responses!


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RE: Can Fire approval stop a build after permits are issued?

Around here there are houses or groups of houses that cannot be reached by fire trucks. I don't know if they continue to approve new builds that are inaccessible but I think they do as some of these houses are only a few years old. Example, if you have a bridge as part of your driveway, it has to be able to support the weight of a firetruck or they won't come. If a hose can reach you, I would think you are in the clear.


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RE: Can Fire approval stop a build after permits are issued?

I can't think of any need the fire department would have other than getting a truck up to one side of the house and being able to turn it around to leave.


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RE: Can Fire approval stop a build after permits are issued?

Well they do have water pressure requirements and hydrant requirements and signage requirements and sprinkler requirements, I could go on an on. But that all seems helpful.

A fire truck could easily get down the driveway. My question is do they ever back up instead of turn around (which requires about an 80 foot width when the pad is only 37 feet wide!).


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RE: Can Fire approval stop a build after permits are issued?

Where do you live and can you link to the code?

And how long is the driveway?

They absolutely do NOT want a truck to have to back out, down a winding driveway ... especially if you are in an area where forest and brush fires are a possibility.


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RE: Can Fire approval stop a build after permits are issued?

California (northern) and yes, backing out (up the driveway in this case, although the grade isn't that bad) is not ideal, even if it is a straight shot. This site has potentially alot of problems. Alot of potential too though! So we'll see. Found out tonight that the original owners had a waiver from the fire marshall on file with the county but that was 8 years ago. I have no idea if the county will honor that at this late date. I know the fire marshall no longer makes site visits.


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RE: Can Fire approval stop a build after permits are issued?

If there is a hydrant close by and the truck has a pump there shouldn't be a water problem. If there were you would be required to provide a pond.

However, a rapid-response residential sprinkler system was probably not required 8 years ago so I would imagine the worst case would be a requirement for water storage tanks for that system which would be a minor additional cost and well worth it. That's what is usually required for a 3 story 3 family residence in a town in order to avoid water pressure issues so it would be fine for a single family residence. A fire should be extinguished before the fire service could mobilize a unit and probably before you were even aware of it.

If a truck turn-around is required it might be a T shape instead of round for a typical first response vehicle.


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RE: Can Fire approval stop a build after permits are issued?

Can a site be completely buildable but the driveway issue (length of driveway, etc.) put a stop to everything? Yes. In many counties and/or states, if the Fire Department can't defend the structure because of access problems, they stop until access is taken care of.

Found out tonight that the original owners had a waiver from the fire marshall on file with the county but that was 8 years ago.

Original owners had the waiver ... it might not apply to you. You'll have to go ask the FD if it does.

Go to the FD with some photos (clean up the underbrush first) and a site plan and ask them what you can do to make it more accessible for their medium sized "brush truck" or a foam truck ... make sure nothing has changed in those 8 years, etc.

Big brush truck - can this turn around in your lot?

They aren't dragons, but they are tightening up on variances because they don't want to risk the loss of men and equipment.


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