A Fire Prevention Option

After last year’s Carr Fire, I took a hard look at our vulnerability to fire out here in the urban-wildland interface.

I have been working for many years on our defensible space, but November saw two more cords of stacked wood, along with three large burn piles. I had thoughts of putting a sprinkler system on the roof, but the asphalt shingles up there have a lot more fire resistance than our wood-shingle walls. Could I protect those walls from wind-blown embers, and what if we were not at home?

Firefighter battles Carr Fire in a Redding subdivision. Photo by Mike Daly.

With some help from Aamigo Supply and $335, we now have an answer for those questions. Using the RainBird ESP-TM2 Controller, our cell phone can activate a mist system hung under the eaves of our house and pumphouse. We have 80 fine spray misters that are placed about 30 inches apart, and they offer pretty good coverage on the walls and also on the ignition zone (the five feet closest to the house).

One limitation is that we are on a well which has a capacity of 12 gallons/minute. The folks at Aamigo were able to calculate the projected flow rate of the 80 misters, and our well is able to keep up with the demand. If you are on city or district water, this would not be an issue.

I should mention that we had some 5/8” drip irrigation tubing lying around which was recycled for this project, and also that I did the installation myself. I splurged ($80) on a second controller for the pumphouse, rather than trench and protect wire for about 60 feet. I’m just including some of these numbers to give some idea of what such a system would cost.

Our next challenge is that all of this is dependent on PG&E electricity, which may be unavailable at precisely the time this system needs it. If we can make it through this summer, I have some ideas about adapting our solar power to meet the need. In the meantime, our new mist system is offering a bit more peace of mind than we had last summer.

Tom O'Mara

Tom O’Mara is a volunteer Civil Rights Advocate for the Redding Police Department.

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