What considerations and requirements are there when it comes to fire flow and your property development? Who sets these standards, why they’re important & what they could cost you.

If you’re looking to develop some land or a commercial building, especially in the city’s jurisdiction and sometimes even in the ETJ, you may have heard of fire flow requirements. So fire flow is the amount of water that firefighters need in the event that there’s a fire in a building or in a development. Typically fire flow is expressed as 1,000 gallons per minute that is flowing through a water line and this is determined by fire codes, also building codes, but typically local fire department, generally speaking, it’s 1,000 gallons per minute.

So, what does this mean for your development? Well, generally speaking, you have to have at least an 8 inch water line to support fire flow. Some local cities like Bastrop only requires a 6 inch waterline. Generally speaking, counties do not require fire flow, but there is a push to get Bastrop county, for example, to start requiring fire flow even in the county’s jurisdiction. The reason being is Bastrop is very prone to fires. Bastrop has had some fires that have decimated the area in the last 10 to 15 years because of all the undergrowth, the yaupon and a lot of pine trees.

The implications for you as a real estate investor, a real estate developer, could be millions of dollars. Because, if you have to upsize that water line, for example, from a 2 inch to an 8 inch water line and if you have to drag that waterline several thousand feet, we’re talking you know seven, easily seven figures sometimes. I mean we’ve gotten a a water feasibility study that said we are going to have to upsize the water line and it was going to be about $1.7 million.

It’s imperative that you are talking and engaging these governing bodies, be it the municipalities or the counties, before you move forward with your development. You need to tell them what you’re looking to develop and then you’ll have to submit a water feasibility study. But, fire flow is very important and sometimes lenders will even require it because, obviously, they want to protect the asset when they are lending on that asset. So, again, fire flow is is generally 1,000 gallons per minute. But, every city and every city and or county may have different rules in place. So, it’s important that you are engaging these governing bodies.

Feel free to reach out to us with questions or other topics you’d like to see covered.

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