In a previous Pinecrest Tribune, I wrote an article explaining the importance of installing fire hydrants within 700 feet of each home in the Village. This is the county fire protection standard. Many of the nearly 850 Pinecrest homes that lack water access also lack the protection afforded by enforcement of this standard.
An alternative source for water when hydrants are not available is the draft well or fire well. Drilling a pipe into the ground allows a fire truck to suck up water and shoot it through a hose onto a fire. Draft wells for fire suppression are similar to those that bring water to homes and lawns, except that a fire well must have a pipe that is six inches in diameter.
If you have visited rural areas in Miami- Dade County, you may have seen some of these six-inch pipes sticking out of the ground and painted just like fire hydrants. Pinecrest has one on the southwest corner of the intersection at 124th Street and 77th Avenue. I don’t know if it’s still in use.
Fire wells can be a very effective water source for a fire department. Besides rural areas of our county, they are in use all over the nation. I have researched the costs, and found that installation can be as little as $4,000 per well.
While a draft well is not the typical first choice for fire safety, it is better than having no hydrant. I would consider installing a draft well if my home did not have a hydrant within 700 feet.
If the county feels it lacks the resources to install hydrants, at a bare minimum it should consider installing draft wells to close the coverage gap. Since each well could cover homes within a range of 700 feet, a single well could provide protection for a small group of homes, even in our estate areas. Perhaps a couple of hundred wells would be needed, suggesting that the installation cost for uncovered areas of our village might be under $1 million.
It is vitally important for our local fire department to have a proper water source within 700 feet in order to effectively fight fire and protect life and property.
Doug Kraft is a Pinecrest resident and a retired firefighter.