Having seen a fire totally destroy a home in the neighborhood, the residents of the Ranches in Parkland are demanding fire hydrants in the area. A sizable section of the area does not have city water.
At last week’s City Commission meeting, city officials directed staff to find out how much it would cost to provide water and proper roads for people in the area. This followed many residents complaining that they felt neglected by the city and unsafe, due to low canals and the lack of fire hydrants.
There was no loss of human life in the fire, but the house, in the 8000 block of Northwest 72nd Street, was destroyed. Apart from the fact that the nearest fire hydrant was nearly 3,000 feet away, the canal wasn’t high enough for the fire fighters to use the water. The pond that was on the property had been filled in.
Dodie Keith-Lazowick, who lives in the Ranches, said the fire fighters who responded to the fire were frustrated by the lack of water to douse the blaze. “I don’t expect to lose everything in the case of a fire; I want fire hydrants. I am willing to pay for it. Put in water lines in the Ranches. Assess us. We want real fire protection.”
Keith-Lazowick plans to visit her neighbors and mobilize opinion in favor of having the infrastructure put in. The city will impose a special assessment for people in the area if it installs water lines and builds roads.
There were no smoke, heat or carbon monoxide detectors in the house that was originally built in the late 1960s and had since undergone a few renovations, Fire Chief Frank Babinec told officials at the meeting. The homeowners initially tried to douse the fire with a garden hose; there was a delay of about 30 minutes, from the time the fire was first detected, in calling 911, he added.
The fire started near an electrical junction box and extended along a wood fence before making its way into the attic, Babinec said. There were several propane tanks in the area of origin of the fire. Having a fire hydrant would have helped, but due to the delay in notifying the department, it would still have been impossible to save the house.
“The fire grew within the attic and the residents didn’t know,” said the Fire Chief. “If there was a smoke detector in the attic, the house would have been saved. If there was one in the main living area, there was a good chance of saving the house. By the time we got to there, it was an offensive fire. We will risk a life to save a life. We will not risk life to save property.”
The department is willing to meet with homeowners in the Ranches, which is one of the oldest parts of the city, and educate them about fire safety, Babinec said. “We will get educational material out there. The educational component will emphasize on early notification and use of smoke detectors. We will do a safety assessment in each house.”
“There are areas in the city that don’t have fire hydrants; this is an issue in Pine Tree Estates as well,” said Mayor Michael Udine. “It is a complicated issue that we continue to struggle with. No one is neglecting the Ranches. We are not against you on this; we are with you.”
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