Friday, May 16, 2003
Planning Board gets tutorial on cisterns
The Planning Board welcomed Fire Chief Dave Flannery for a get-acquainted visit with board members on May 12.
"Are you happy with the Rules and Regs?" asked chair Kate Reid to start off the discussion. Flannery was generally satisfied, but expressed concern about common driveways. "Some are long and narrow, with several large houses," he said. "There has to be room for our ladder truck. I'd like to be involved in the planning early on so that we can ensure adequate protection."
One issue that the board frequently encounters in a new development is the quantity and placement of cisterns. Member Mike Abend is in the process of developing a cistern requirement for the Rules and Regulations and emphasized his desire to "quantify the cistern requirements." Flannery described the somewhat esoteric operation of a 20,000-gallon fire cistern to those in the room • Cistern 101 if you will. Each cistern has a fill pipe to fill the tank with water, a draw pipe to allow water to be withdrawn, and a vent pipe to replace air when water is removed. There is a well next to the cistern for long-term water replenishment, but at 5-10 gallons per minute, this can take days. During a fire, tanker trucks quickly fill the cistern and then shuttle back to reload while the firemen draw down water at rates approaching 500 gallons per minute.
The question of cistern inspection, which recently delayed approval of a Great Brook Estates lot, brought this explanation from Flannery. A new cistern is filled and then left to sit for two weeks to test for leakage. A warning light signals if the water drops to a dangerously low level. The tank is then pumped down to test whether all water can be withdrawn, and then the water is returned for final long-term storage.
Planning administrator George Mansfield agreed to make it a regular practice to invite the fire chief to each conceptual plan review.
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