By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Fire Department Enacts Plug Program
Looking to adhere to a fire code standard, Knox Fire Department Connection (FDC) Plugs are being installed at multiple locations in the City of Escalon, helping add to the fire protection arsenal.

Actually, admitted Escalon Fire Department Battalion Chief Terry Pinheiro, use of the plugs has been on the books for some time, but the department is now actively enforcing the requirement in light of recent problems.

"This is where the fire department connects, plugs in to the sprinkler system," Pinheiro explained. "They have it at the high school, the library, most of the shopping centers."

The system allows the fire department to plug hoses in to the existing sprinkler system at a location and energize the sprinklers via the water tender, but in many cases, those attachments become the target of vandals.

"What we have seen is that people put cans in, tennis balls, garbage," Pinheiro said of blocking the connection sites. "They've used these (plugs) in Ripon and it totally cuts down on the vandalism."

Debris in the line can impede the flow of water, said Pinheiro, hampering any firefighting effort.

With the installation of the plugs, though, access to the system is blocked to the general public. Firefighters will have the keys that will unlock the cap and allow the hose to be hooked up.

"We purchase the keys and the property purchases the keys," Pinheiro said, noting that the FDC plugs use a universal key, so if another fire department responds with mutual aid on an Escalon fire, they will be able to access the plug.

"They cost about $100 per cap and we'll start putting that in our annual inspection," Pinheiro said of phasing in the caps, or plugs, which will be the responsibility of the property owner to purchase.

"This now puts us in line with the International Fire Code," Fire Chief Rick Mello added of installing the plugs. "There are around eight facilities now that will have them."

As each site comes up for its annual inspection, the fire department will request that the Knox plug be added.

"It's a one time expense," Mello explained of the roughly $100 cost per cap. "All of our fulltime people will be assigned a key and there will be one on each vehicle as well."

Firefighters have already installed a plug at an area care home and other locations that will eventually utilize them include the local schools and many stores.

"Anyplace that has a sprinkler system" can utilize the plugs, Pinheiro said.

"The standard calls for a breakaway lock or a lock that is easily accessible to the fire department," he explained.

By blocking access with installation of the plug, firefighters can be assured a swift connection and flow of water to the built-in sprinkler system at the location if a fire occurred.

"In the long run, this will pay off," Pinheiro said.

Anyone with questions about the fire plug system can contact the fire department at 838-7500.