A lesson learned
Years ago, following safety procedures, I burned a house on purpose to get rid of it. I was stunned by the speed of that fire. Our wood houses go fast.
If a fire truck is not close, it probably will not get there in time to save anything, but only in time to finally and completely drench the flames. So pretty much everything gets destroyed. This is especially true in rural areas.
But in many such cases, a fire could be stopped if water got to it within three to five minutes. What would it take?
My fire-suppression system
I decided I wanted a fire-suppression system in my home. I was not interested in fire extinguishers that may or may not work and seem always in the way. I wanted an actual, simple, but extremely effective water system. Fortunately over the last forty years, I have not had to use it, although I have always had one.
It is very simple: You put a mini-hydrant with a hose in your house. We have all seen similar ones in hotels. They look like cabinets with a glass you break, pull out a water hose, turn it on and run it down to the fire. Well, we are suggesting a similar device for the home.
The pictures with this article show the system I have in Charca Casa, my home in Italy, Texas. It’s the third one I put together. The first went into my home in Taylor, Idaho, and the second went into our Cliff Dome in Menan, Idaho.
1.) Tie into the water line of the house. Note: rarely is a house fire accompanied by a loss of water pressure. Of course, there is always that possibility, but rarely do troubles come in pairs.
2.) After tying into the water system, hook up a valve that’s a ball valve. With a ball valve you can simply swing the handle and it’s on full tilt.
3.) Attach a garden hose to the ball valve. Get a good quality, simple garden hose and attach it utilizing hose clamps. Do not use a screw-on end. If you use a screw-on end, you risk tempting someone to take it and use it in the yard. This is a dedicated hose that if it’s fastened solidly will always works.
4.) Measure how much hose is needed to reach the farthest corner of your house.
5.) Roll your hose, as shown, into a very simple, standard kitchen cabinet, available at most home-supply stores.
6.) Attach a nozzle that can be rotated and adjusted to the end of the hose. When you turn that nozzle all the way to the left, it shuts the water off. If you open it a bit, it does a fine fog. Open it more and it produces a stronger fog. Open it all the way and it shoots a pencil-thin blast that will extinguish some fires.
Important: Keep an easily available fire extinguisher that’s made to extinguish grease fires in your kitchen. On its website, the United States Fire Administration describes at least two: Class B and Class K. Never, never pour water on a grease fire.
For a Monolithic Dome home
In a Monolithic Dome, if it’s not a grease fire, it will probably be a piece of upholstered furniture, and chances are that you, the home owner, will be the first responder.
Should that happen and you have a fire-suppresser, you can simply throw the valve that turns the hose on full blast, grab the hose end and head for the fire. At the fire site, you can open the end of the nozzle enough to squelch the fire, but not enough to destroy your home with too much water.
For every home – especially stick-and-brick or wood
I put my first fire-suppresser into my conventional, wood home, that was twenty miles from the nearest fire station. That house would have burned mightily. A fire vehicle would not have got there in time. I was very proud of my system, but, as I said, we never had to use it.
If you catch a fire in its first two or three minutes and you have the proper equipment, you usually can put it out. But finding a bucket, running to the kitchen to fill it and then running to the fire usually is not effective.
I strongly urge everyone to put one of these simple, mini fire-suppressers in their homes.