The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Water Needs of TN Fire Departments

Reference Number: MTAS-405
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: November 10, 2017
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Tennessee fire departments are organized, equipped, staffed, and trained to minimize injuries, deaths, and loss of property from fires. Although some fires require chemicals for extinguishment, water is the universal agent for extinguishing fires. Many communities in Tennessee do not have sufficient quantities of water for effective firefighting service, and they lack adequate resources to obtain a needed supply. Small city and rural fire departments often spend much of their time locating an available source of water for fire extinguishment. “When assessing the water needs of a community, the water needs of the fire department are often not considered even though fire protection is the only municipal delivery service where improved capability can result in savings to taxpayers through reduced property insurance premiums.” [1] Deficient fire flows (defined as an insufficient amount of water needed to extinguish a fire in a given building) not only hamper firefighting operations, place civilians and firefighters at risk, and contribute to higher property losses from fire, they penalize the entire community in the form of higher property insurance premiums from a poorer ISO rating.


[1] Public Technology, Inc. (PIT) Washington, D.C. Model for Fire Station Location. Fire Suppression Rating Schedule Handbook.

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