When to Build a Fire Retention Pond (& How to Do It)

A fire retention pond is a body of water used to prevent the spread of fire. This is especially important in rural areas where access to fire hydrants is not readily available. As flames have been consuming parts of the Pacific Northwest, Idaho, and California, now is the time to consider how to keep them from reaching your home. No matter where you live.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Building a Fire Retention Pond (And Why You Should):

Do You Need a Fire Retention Pond?

As many have noticed the recent smokey haze on the horizon, it’s likely been from encroaching wildfire. Homes, farms, and agricultural centers are at risk as fires have ravaged the western United States. Even air quality has suffered as ash falls from the sky and carbon dioxide releases into the atmosphere. Though the effects of wildfire are harmful to many, they are especially detrimental to those who live in rural environments. Without the convenience of fire hydrants, small town fire departments are unable to provide the water necessary to fight a fire. Though they may have the equipment, vehicles, and pumps, these are all but worthless if there is not a water source nearby. For this reason, it is important for rural communities to build a fire retention pond from which local fire fighters can draw. One, well-maintained pond can keep an entire neighborhood flame-free.

How Do You Build One?

Similarly to building a farm pond, building a fire retention pond requires a lot of planning. The amount of water you will need to maintain depends on the size of your property. One 2,000-square-foot home, for example, will require more than 8,000 gallons of water to suppress. Barn fires require more than 25,000 gallons. Check your home measurements to calculate the water volume you will need for your retention pond. Though you may be hesitant to build one, the sole purpose of your pond does not have to be fire retention. Any pond, decorational, agricultural, recreational or otherwise, can double as a water source in the event of a fire. A well placed swimming pool, aquaculture farm, or fishing pond can provide all the water you need. Simply setup a dry hydrant to provide fire retention access. A dry hydrant is a piece of PVC pipe that connects to the water source. It allows firefighters to tap into the fire retention pond and use the water for wildfire management. Some rural fire departments will require dry hydrants in order to pump water from your water source. Others will have floating pumps they can place on the water’s surface. Check with your local fire department for water pump guidelines.

Are Fire Retention Ponds Hard to Maintain?

To keep your pond “fire retention ready” there are a few things you will need to do. The water must be kept free of excess weeds and algae that could get stuck in the water pump. Thankfully there are enzyme products and other additives that can help combat weed and algae growth. It also must be free of ice in the winter. In addition, the dry hydrant must be checked periodically for silt and weeds. Make sure you use a screen or other filtration device to keep debris from entering the hydrant while not in use. Because the pond must be accessible by fire equipment, there also must be road access to your pond. Again, check your local fire department to learn more about what kind of vehicles they use and what kind of terrain they can access. It also helps to use reflective equipment or lights, so fire departments have easier night access to the pond. Finally, If you are interested in installing a fire retention pond—or refurbishing an existing pond for fire retention purposes—make sure you check with your insurance provider. Many offer discounts for properties featuring fire retention ponds. BTL Liners provides industrial strength pond liners for fire retention ponds. Our liners are available in a variety of thicknesses, strengths, and warranties.  They are made from reinforced polyethylene (RPE) and are puncture and tear resistant. Contact us for more information about building a fire retention pond for your community.

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