California recently witnessed immediate indications of climate change and its effect on resource availability and fire security. Planned electrical outages took place throughout the state from October 9-12, affecting more than 700,000 customers and millions of Californians, including vulnerable groups like schools and hospitals. Multiple smaller outages occurred thereafter.
The blackouts were conducted to curb the risk of devastating firestorms like the one that took place in Paradise and scores of others across the western states in recent years. PG&E officials have acknowledged that similar blackouts are expected to continue for a decade. The effects of these blackouts on businesses, fire insurance rates, natural environments, local economies and public health won’t be fully understood for some time. It’s clear that local energy independence and fire security measures are central to finding solutions to local climate challenges.
What does this mean for the onsite water industry in California? There are several opportunities for decentralized system designers and service providers to expand their business portfolios and meet this pressing need:
-Design and installation of metal or underground Fire-security water tanks as part of a fire suppression system. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides standards for fire protection systems.
-Where existing rain or other water tanks exist, retrofitting with fire service compatible hook-ups is a simple, effective way to support water availability to fire protection districts within wildland urban interface regions where distributed water availability is limited. Even Polyethylene tanks can be modified to provide a degree of protection with little additional cost to the consume.
-Connection of existing interior or exterior fire suppression systems to onsite water supply via off-grid solar, dedicated battery back-up or generators, would ensure these systems continue to function in the event of a power outage.
-Integration of fire resilient landscape and stormwater measures could be used to increase fuel moisture and decrease overall fuel load within the defensible space of a structure.