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Fifth Third Fire: More Hydrants Needed

Comstock Park, Mich. — When firefighters tackled the massive fire at Fifth Third Ballpark Friday, they only had two fire hydrants to work with at the ballpark itself.

To get water for the aerial truck, Plainfield Township Assistant Fire Chief Steve McKellar said that his fire crews had to lay heavy line 1600 feet down a road to the edge of the property near AJ’s.

“Establishing that water supply off of AJ`s fun park, that was very time consuming,” said McKellar.

The two hydrants in the park are located near the third baseline and another is located near the loading dock.

“The hydrant located by AJ`s fun park is approximately 1600 to 1800 feet away from where we needed the water, ” said McKellar. “It took two of our engines that holds 900 to 1,000 feet of hose, to drop their line and lay it, basically creating a portable water main on top of the snowpack.”

McKellar said that when the ballpark was constructed around 20 years ago, there were only two hydrants required.

That was appropriate for the fire code used in 1990.

However, he said since then more buildings have been constructed at the location of the ballpark and the code has been changed for better fire protection.

He says by today’s standards he’d eventually like to see fire hydrants looping the park every 400 feet.

As far as fire inspections in the past, recent reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act didn’t show any glaring red flags.

A report that resulted from an inspection on April 30, 2013 showed some minor violations at the park.

Those included things like this;
*No storage of any type in the main mechanical/sprinkler/boiler room.  Clean up crews items and pictures need to be removed.
*Third base grill – the gas grills need to be at least 15 ` away from any combustibles.
*slush puppies machines have (3) different exposed wires
*#38 GFI not tripping on test, please replace

Friday’s fire was caused by a space heater in a suite that was being remodeled.

As Whitecaps employees were preparing to tear out cabinets and flooring, they reportedly moved a trash bin too close to a space heater in Suite 306.

That bin started on fire.

The sprinkler system on that side of the ballpark where the fire occurred also failed to function.

McKellar said, it’s not certain why some of the sprinkler system worked on one half of the building that was fed by a different water pipe, but that side of the facility that burned had failed.

McKellar said there may have been nothing spotted during fire inspections in the past to prevent the fire, but the hydrants are the focus of the future.

“The end goal is to get fire hydrants all the way around that building,” said McKellar.

The Vice President of the Whitecaps, Jim Jarecki, says they are also working on obtaining more hydrants.

“Absolutely….according to code, we will sit down with Plainfield Township and see what we can do to better the facility,” said Jarecki. “We`ll sit down with the township and see what the fire requirement codes are and work with them.”

Ideally, McKellar said they`d like to see around six hydrants surrounding the ballpark in the future.

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