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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: misc.rural
Subject: Re: Getting distant tv stations
Date: Mon, 03 Jul 2006 21:40:07 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 3 Jul 2006 21:23:30 +0100, Janet Baraclough
<> wrote:

>The message <>
>from Neon John <> contains these words:
>> If you watch only a little TV  then how can the lack of it be one of
>> the biggest disadvantages of living in the country?  Would seem to me
>> that other little annoyances such as unreliable power, poor fire
>> protection, high insurance rates, distance from medical care and stuff
>> like that would rank up there in front of TV.....
>   Higher insurance rates? Is that common in rural USA?
>   In the UK, rural insurance rates are invariably much lower than urban
>rates (for the same policy-holder/vehicle/goods). The lower premium
>reflects the much lower rural  risk from crime, traffic accident,
>vandalism etc.

There is little to no risk of property crime in the US in rural areas,
quite the opposite of the UK, so I read.  The crime that the US media
reports is almost all located in the large population centers, thank
God.  Even within that category, the violent crime that makes the news
is pretty much relegated to the largest cesspit cities in the country.
Even in mid-sized cities like Cleveland, a murder or a real rape a
year is out of the ordinary.

The main, overwhelming risk in rural areas is fire (other than those
places that flood, of course) and the rates reflect that.  An
insurance industry funded group called ISO rates areas according to
the quality and distance of fire protection.  The lower the ISO number
the better.  At my restaurant I have a rating of 1 because the main
fire hall is one block over and it's equipped with every firefighting
gadget known to man.  At my cabin, the rating is either 9 or 13, I
forget which.  My cabin is 17 miles of winding country roads away from
the nearest volunteer fire station and even that one is more good
thoughts than an actual firefighting unit.  The result is that
insurance on this $40k vacation home is more than on my $200k
restaurant with all its high powered appliances.

This ISO rating is what motivates people over here to form and equip
volunteer fire departments even in very low density populated areas.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: misc.rural
Subject: Re: Getting distant tv stations
Date: Tue, 04 Jul 2006 01:14:03 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 03 Jul 2006 19:53:44 -0700, Don Bruder <>

>In article <>,
> Neon John <> wrote:
>> This ISO rating is what motivates people over here to form and equip
>> volunteer fire departments even in very low density populated areas.
>BTDT - Watched the landlord's house burn down from the inside out about
>3 years ago. Cause never determined. Discovered at 2:30 PM, give or take
>about 15 minutes.
>First fire-truck rolled onto the property a hair under 45 minutes after
>I caught the presence of mind to set the video camera up on a tripod.

Flip side of that coin.  I had an arsonist set a fire in another shop
in my building, the idea being to get everyone to run out and watch
the fire while his buddy grabbed the register out of my restaurant. (I
had told my cook that I thought that someone was casing the place and
that no matter what happened over the next little period, not to leave
the restaurant.  He didn't and he caught the perp red-handed. Seems
the perp fell down the stairs as he was trying to leave the restaurant

I have a fairly sophisticated fire/alarm system in the building.  I
have a fairly bright red strobe and a LOUD siren pointed directly at
the #1 fire station a block away.  The instant the sucker lit the
accelerant, the room alarm went off.  The FD guys heard the noise,
looked and saw the red strobe flashing on their favorite restaurant
:-) and were rolling even before the alarm company could call it in.
Even before we could locate the fire.

From ignition to extinguishment was under 4 minutes and little more
than smoke damage was done.  I had the fire knocked down with a fire
extinguisher by the time they deployed but they went ahead and got the
rest of it, including some sparks in the attic.

At my cabin, soon to be my home as soon as I get the move completed,
I'm going to install a residential sprinkler system.  My insurance
company will pay me over a couple of years to do that by virtue of the
discounts I'll get.  They also cover with no deductible, any water
damage the system might cause.  They REALLY want rural properties such
as mine sprinkled.

Residential sprinkler systems are fairly cheap and not nearly as
conspicuous as commercial versions.  They don't require a special
water connection, nor high pressure high volume water.  I AM going to
install a head tank, though not required by the code, just to be sure
there is always water available.

Installing the sprinkler system is as good as at least a couple of ISO
points, maybe more.  It'll cut my premium by more than a third.

I've been burned out once and that second one was too close for
comfort.  I'm not going to test the "three's charm" theory!


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: misc.rural
Subject: Re: Getting distant tv stations
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2006 22:51:15 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Wed, 05 Jul 2006 06:28:18 -0700, Offbreed
<> wrote:

>Neon John wrote:
>> Well, that answers my question.  No, you don't bother to read.  If you
>> had you've have noticed that he was referring to the device in the URL
>> he posted that blows dry chemical out onto the grease fire and not a
>> wet sprinkler system.
>That was a kind of subtle change of subject. I was wondering "what the
>hell?" until I saw where the link went.
>Neat gadget.
>I wonder how well those would work under a heavy layer of grease? (Some
>rentals I've moved into were pretty bad).

If you note the ingredient, it's baking soda, treated with some sort
of silica or silicone to keep it from caking.  It's the automated
version of what yer mom (should have) taught you about grease fires -
toss on a handful of baking soda to put it out.

Baking soda is amazingly effective.  Even a thin cloud snuffs flames
instantly.  I think that the heat must break it down and liberate CO2
or something.

That looks like a slick little gadget, though it would make a hell of
a mess when it goes off.  I wonder where one could buy one in single
piece quantity?  Can't imagine ever using a case of the things.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Inverter Failures
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2007 13:05:32 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sun, 24 Jun 2007 14:41:47 GMT, wrote:

>(Assuming you have a single-pump setup) Running the well pump off the
>backup generator might be bearable if your pressure tank is large
>enough. If not, here's what I recommended to a friend who's worried
>about grid failure rendering his fire sprinkler system inoperable (he
>already has multiple pressure tanks) - a storage tank as big as you
>can fit in the basement or whatever, along with a DC pressure pump. It
>could have manual valves and switches, or be online ready to take over
>whenever the normal pressure system fails. An additional benefit is
>that such a setup could provide backup in case of submersible failure,
>something that could easily take a week to fix. You could even put it
>online full-time which might save some energy and extend the life of
>your submersible. For backup you could use relatively inexpensive
>diaphragm pump(s), for full-time use something like this might be

Holy mother of solar rip-off, Bat Man.  Almost $500 for a pump that will run on a 300
watt inverter, indicating no more than 1/4hp?  Holy shite!  One or two of the
Sureflow RV pumps at less than $100 a pop will do soo much more for soo much less.
They'll handle sand and will run indefinitely dry, as I've found out in my motorhome
more than once.

Anyway, I'd be cautious about the basement mounted tank and DC pump, especially if
fire protection figures into the mix.  As a (formerly) UL certified fire system
inspector, ex- and future volunteer fireman and as someone who has lost a house to
fire, I'm kinda sensitive to such things.

Let's recall the old rule of 1 gallon of gas is about the same as 1000 lbs of
batteries.  It's going to take a LOT of battery power to pump the same water that
even 1 gallon of gas will pump.  I'd much rather have my gas fired generator with the
5 gallon tank running a known-good submersible pump than have to rely on very limited
capacity and reserve DC electric pumps.

I have a male pigtail sticking out of my remote wellhouse so that if something
happens in the house during a fire emergency that kills power (it usually does) then
I can run the fire protection system from the generator that I roll over there.  I
have a separate power drop from the utility pole for the same reason.  A major fault
in the breaker panel could conceivably blow the primary fuse on the pole transformer
and thus kill my pump: thus the generator backup.  All that water in a basement tank
would be useless if it couldn't be pumped out.

I prefer to run the electric pump from the generator because I know that the pump is
proven in everyday use. A gas powered pump may or may not prime after the engine does
or does not start.  My generator gets a regular workout and fresh fuel so I know it's
good to go.

Two more projects are underway.  One is to install residential fire sprinklers.  The
nearest fire department is over an hour away so my fire protection falls to me.
Because some city codes are now requiring residential sprinklers, the cost and
availability are getting better and better.

The other is a passive water feed to the house.  My well pump is about 40 vertical
feet above my house.  Not quite enough head to power the sprinklers.  I'm collecting
materials to build a 30 ft tower on top of which will go a 250 gallon polyethylene
tank.  This additional 30 ft plus the est 9 ft (initially) of water head inside the
tank is just enough.  I'm probably going to lose the place anyway if a fire breaks
out that it so large that 250 gallons can't nip it in the bud.  This is to be the
last-ditch, if all the power is off and I'm away effort to save the place.

One other comment while I'm on the subject.  We have the worst ISO fire rating there
is that will let us actually get fire insurance.  Several of us have been checking
around and we've discovered an alternative.  We found out that the volunteer fire
department (25 winding mountain road miles away) will position a pumper truck up here
if we'll provide a secure spot for it.

I've leased a hunk of land to the VFD for a dollar and had it clear off.  Others are
raising the money for a metal building to put the truck in to protect it from
freezing.  I'll probably supply the power for the heat or maybe we'll split it.  All
the full-time residences in this resort area are going to be trained on the truck and
become volunteer firemen.  With us certified as firemen and with the equipment
literally in our back door, we're going to gain a whole bunch of ISO points.  We'll
make back in lower insurance premiums what we donated, probably the first year.

This isn't a large truck - basically a 4WD military surplus brush fire truck.  250
gallon tank, pump and couple hundred feet of hose.  A gas powered pump and several
hundred more feet of low pressure hose is there to be run down to the river to keep
the tank filled.  I'm thinking about laying an underground pipe to the river if we
can get every property owner's permission to cross his property.  If I can do that
then maybe I can put an electric start pump in a little hose down by the river and
remote start it from up here.

I already have a large pump in my well and I'm installing 2" line down the casing and
am installing a 2" fire dept riser on my pumphouse.  Yet another supply of water.

I'll be doing the preventative maintenance and routine exercising on the truck so
I'll know that it's ready to go.

This is some food for thought, especially for y'all that have several homes in a
remote location.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Motorhome fire
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2007 02:47:36 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 23 Jul 2007 02:10:34 GMT, BigWhoop <> wrote:

>On Mon, 23 Jul 2007 01:56:29 GMT, 617211 <> wrote:
>>Are on-board fire supression systems something to think about now,
>>similar to what they've installed in race cars in the engine
>You have a house on wheels. Treat the house like a house and  the
>undercarriage like a truck.  Change those hoses on that engine before
>they break.   3 years or 50,000 miles whichever comes first? I don't
>know.. check the chassis manual.

That has to take the award for the dumb-ass answer of the decade!  Let me see if I
understand your concept.  You suggest not using a relatively inexpensive and proven
fire suppression system in favor of a hope and a prayer and some sort of preventative
maintenance?  Wow!  My mind reels.....

Just to make sure, which one of the hope, prayer or preventative maintenance will
protect from a broken fuel line, a broken oil line, a burst turbo wheel, a blown
exhaust gasket, a leaking coolant line (glycol in just a little over 50%
concentration is flammable), an exhaust pipe mount that breaks and lets the pipe drop
down against something flammable, an electrical fire or...  I don't see it but I'm
certainly open to suggestions.

Or are you suggesting to let 'er burn and let the insurance replace it?  Obviously
spoken by a true expert who's never suffered an actual fire.  I have and even though
insurance put everything it could back better than it was, the loss was devastating.

To the OP.  I've advocated racing-style fire suppression systems for years, along
with aviation-style high speed fire detection systems.  These systems use primarily
ultraviolet detectors that detect the UV light given off by the incipient fire and if
so designed, are fast enough to stop a flammable gas explosion in mid boom.

That's not needed in an RV, of course, but a system that would detect fire using UV
and/or rate-of-rise detectors and alert the driver in less than a second would give
him time to fire the suppression system.  A human-in-the-loop system is fast enough
and is far cheaper than a fully automatic system.  Seems to me that another $2-3,000
for such a system would be cheap insurance against the cost of the rig.

Even a fully manual system straight out of a race car would be enough to stop most
engine-related fires in their tracks.  Such a system would come in at the kilobuck
point, plus or minus.

There's something even simpler that can be done that will take care of most engine
fires, especially on a Class C.  I've punched a couple of 1.5" diameter holes in my
doghouse and plugged them with metal electrical blank-off plugs.  They're hidden
under the carpet on the doghouse but can easily be accessed with the flick of a
knife.  The plugs are held in place with the metal tabs made onto the plug and some
RTV to make it CO-proof.  That is also easily flicked off with a knife or a

The purpose of the holes is to allow the nozzle of a dry chemical extinguisher to be
stuck through to fire on the engine.  I have a 10 lb and a 20 lb extinguisher
onboard.  If I had room I'd have two 20s.  I have one large and one very large shot
at getting the fire out without having to access the engine compartment from the


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,misc.rural
Subject: Fire
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 00:43:10 -0500
Message-ID: <>

I just returned to my cabin from an evening of fighting forest fire.

About dusk this evening I was sitting at the Green Cove general store when I noticed
heat shimmers a few hundred yards away.  I though that I was looking at an orange
sunset through heat waves from a camp fire.  A few seconds later I realized that I
was looking at a forest fire.  An arsonist had just touched off a fire at the base of
a very steep hill, at the top of which were two unoccupied vacation houses.

The lady who runs the store called everyone she could think of while I raced to my
cabin, tossed all my fire extinguishers and a rake into my van and raced up the hill.
The fire was already licking up the support posts of the porch on the first house. My
neighbor, a fellow year-round resident, was trying to stomp it out.  I tossed him a
couple of fire extinguishers and went up to the second cabin.

This one has about 150 wood steps going up the side of the mountain. By the time I
got there I was fairly sure a heart attack was in my future!  I had to climb over
boulders to get to the back side of the cabin where the fire was.  As I got there,
the fire was just touching off scrap wood piled under the place.  I was too tired to
stand so I just kinda fell down on my butt and hosed the fire with the extinguisher
as I sat.  That bought me enough time to get my heart rate down to the low triple
digits and to get it stuffed back into my chest.

I raked the leaves and brush away from the bottom side of the house.  Another guy
came up about then so I tossed him my rake and told him to hit the top side of the
cabin where the fire was still burning while I stomped out embers and small flames
below.  I looked up a few minutes later to find my rake propped against a tree and
him gone.  Nice!

The hill was steep enough that I could just barely climb it but I managed to go back
and forth between the top and bottom fires at least a couple of times.  I was well on
my way toward losing control when the forest service first responder showed up in a
small 4WD tanker.  Just in time.  As he commented later, he flagrantly violated
forest service policy as he made the ~15 mile trip up the winding mountain road in
oh, about 15 minutes :-)

I rolled/slid down the hill and got the hose, then headed back up, mostly crawling at
that point.  Of course the B&S Vanguard V-twin engine that drove the pump wouldn't
start.  Murphy rules.  Back to the rake until he fiddled around with the engine and
got it running.  There was only 150 gallons of water in that tank so the procedure
was to knock down the big blazes with water and then rake and stomp the remainder.

About an hour after my first sighting, the main forest service fire fighter crews,
including dozers to cut fire lines, showed up along with volunteer fire departments
from 3 surrounding towns.  That was very welcome relief!

The smoke eaters cut fire lines around the fire, knocked down the major blazes and
left the rest to burn.  With perfect timing, just as they left, the wind suddenly
picked up.  One of the cabin owners had arrived, setting another land speed record no
doubt, and he turned on his well pump.  We spent the next 3 hours knocking down hot
spots and flare-ups with a combination of water hose, toting water in buckets and

I got back to my cabin about a half hour ago.  I'm one wore-out hombre!  Too old for
that kind of crap.  We're going to stay up in shifts to keep an eye on the situation
until morning.  The state arson investigator is supposed to be up in the AM to
investigate.  I'm in the uncomfortable position of having only 1 10 lb fire
extinguisher on hand.  The Tellico VFD refills our extinguishers but that'll take a
day or two.

Once again I was struck by the remarkable efficacy of dry chemical.  We used 2 20 lb
extinguishers on each cabin.  I found that I could drop a mist of dry chem on a wide
swath of burning brush and watch it just stop burning.  This kinda violates the
general instruction to aim at the base of the fire but it worked.

We had an impromptu property owner's meeting in the road near the fire.  We've all
decided to each buy a large fire extinguisher and hang it on the wall outside each
building.  They'll be a community resource that can be drawn upon for the next fire.
This addresses the major problem we have in fighting fires up here and that is that
everyone turns his water off when he leaves.  Plenty of hoses and hydrants but no
water.  Many of us are going to move the well pump switches to outside locations so
that water will be available even if we're not.

We've been working all summer on getting a fire truck donated to the community so
that we can have our own fire protection.  I've donated land and another property
owner has donated a building.  As usual, government red tape has been the problem.
We're also going to put a large water tank on the upper side of my property and keep
it filled with water for fire fighting purposes.  I think we have a 5000 gallon tank
located.  Now to get it moved up here!

I have a fire fighting station outside my cabin that consists of a freeze-proof farm
hydrant, a couple hundred feet of industrial grade dry hose and a rake.  A lesson
learned from tonight is to include in that kit a respirator.  I'm still wheezing from
the smoke I inhaled.

I'm going to install a fire override switch on my water system that will boost the
normal 40 psi water pressure to whatever the pump can make, probably at least 100
psi, for firefighting.  This is the way the water system worked in the factories
where I've been on the fire brigades.  I'm also going to finish separating the well
pump power from the cabin power.

Another lesson I learned from tonight is to have provisions for getting sufficient
extinguishers to the fire.  I could have definitely used more but I had all I could
carry.  I have an old pack frame that I'm going to outfit to carry 2 or 3 20 lb
extinguishers (depending on how many will fit).  I'll be able to pack in 3 that way
and perhaps carry another.

Another lesson learned is that a cheap Russian-made night vision scope that is mostly
sensitive to infrared is VERY useful in finding hidden hot spots.  Mine is an
inexpensive one from WallyWorld.  I used the heck out of it tonight.

The final lesson learned is to have even more extinguishers on hand.  I've bought a
bunch of industrial grade 20 and 30 lb extinguishers from junque auctions.
Unfortunately many of those are still at my old restaurant building.  I'm going to
buy a bunch more, especially since I can get them serviced by the Tellico VFD.

My cabin is surrounded by RVs and it seems that at least one burns every year.  A
major fire last spring burned 9.  I've been taking fire protection seriously but it
suddenly got a LOT more serious.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,misc.rural
Subject: Re: Fire
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 11:59:06 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 12 Nov 2007 06:03:51 -0800, "FMB" <> wrote:

>"Neon John" <> wrote in message
>>I just returned to my cabin from an evening of fighting forest fire.
>> About dusk this evening I was sitting at the Green Cove general store
>> when I noticed heat shimmers a few hundred yards away.  I though that I
>> was looking at an orange sunset through heat waves from a camp fire.  A
>> few seconds later I realized that I was looking at a forest fire.  An
>> arsonist had just touched off a fire at the base of a very steep hill,
>> at the top of which were two unoccupied vacation houses.
>> John
>Good work, John. And for the folks that think luggin a 20# or 30# DC
>extinguisher is not a big deal, go try it some time. IIRC, a 30# DC weighs
>in at about 56# and the 20# is in the upper 30# range.  The 20 & 30 refer to
>the weight of the powder only.

Thanks.  yeah, I felt every pound of  those things - later.  Yesterday afternoon I'd
have bet a week's pay that I'd not be able to run at all, given my busted up knees
and stuff.  But like in other situations, one does what he has to.  About midnight I
went back up to that cabin to look for hot spots.  No fire extinguishers this time,
just me and a rake.  It probably took me 30 minutes to do those stairs.

Of course, I'm paying for it today.  "Sore as a boil" ring any bells?

Nothing like a little excitement to spice up a Sunday evening :-)


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,misc.rural
Subject: Re: Fire
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 12:30:25 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 12 Nov 2007 08:09:36 -0700, "Technobarbarian"
<> wrote:

>[the rest of another great Neon John impromptu adventure snipped]
>    I thought that was supposed to be a nice quiet bucolic community you're
>living in? What's next, rioting in the streets and you pull out a stash of
>street sweepers you had handy for just such an occasion? Mongol hordes
>invade and you get your tank out of the garage? I'm starting to think it's
>quieter here in the middle of the city than it is in *your* back yard.

You may be right :-)  The riff-raff, including the one who came to my cabin with the
gun, is about to be gone, kicked out by the property owner.  Things should get back
to normal.

Fire, or more specifically, arson, as always been a problem here.  There are still a
couple of clans of mountain folk who live off the land.  You know, two trips a year
out for flour and sugar, bath once a week, etc.  Good folks.  People I like to be
around.  Upwind, of course :-) They hunt and fish all year round.  Even *gasp* out of

Every so often a new forest service or game&fish cop will come to town and try to be
a prick toward one clan or another.  The worst thing one can do to a bunch like that
is to shoot a hunting dog.  The usual response to having a good dog shot is to find
an old curr dog, tie a rag soaked in kerosene or something to a string and then to
his tail, light the rag and set the dog out running through the woods.  Every time
the rag touched down it starts a fire.  I haven't quite figured out how burning the
woods addresses the wrong but that's the way things are.

Many years ago we got 'em to not do it around the community, pointing out that we
didn't do anything to bother them and that we supported their battles with

Then there's the mountain way of settling personal feuds - burn the b*stards out.
After swapping notes with all the other locals this morning, we have a pretty good
idea that that was what happened last night and who was involved.  I won't say
anymore until the arson investigators finish.

This latter factor is what is driving the effort to organize a VFD here.  When
someone gets burnt out, and I know of at least one likely candidate right now, we
want to make sure that the fire stays on THAT property and doesn't spread.

This HAS been an interesting summer.  Excluding the gun play, of course, I've really
enjoyed it.  Nothing like a community being self-sufficient and coming together to
battle the common enemy.  I just hope it doesn't happen TOO often!

A couple of other interesting developments.  We found out this morning that enough of
us have FRS radios to set up an emergency net.  That will be very useful, as few
people have phones.  I have an huge old antique fire house siren that's connected to
the old restaurant building's burglar alarm.  It's going to come up here and get
mounted on the general store's light pole to serve as the general alert to tell
everyone to monitor the net.

Progress is being made.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,misc.rural
Subject: Re: Fire
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 19:12:40 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 12 Nov 2007 15:19:58 -0500, "Cliff" <> wrote:

>Neon John wrote:
>>.> Progress is being made.
>> John
>John, have you considered the possibility that the fellow you saw, and
>enlisted with the rake, is the one who set the fire?  They say arsonist like
>to hang around and watch the results of their labor.

I don't much think so.  There is strong evidence pointing to someone else.  Plus, a
lookie-loo would have had much more to see with much less work back down the

>Cliff in TN - more doctors today for me ... possible eye surgery next spring
>... Oh, Goody ...

Sounds like you're having a great time too..... NOT!


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,misc.rural
Subject: Re: Fire
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 19:59:50 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 12 Nov 2007 15:13:48 -0500, wrote:

>On Mon, 12 Nov 2007 00:43:10 -0500, Neon John <> wrote:
>>I just returned to my cabin from an evening of fighting forest fire.
><snipped story>
>On one hand, I applaud your stamina, resourcefulness and community
>spirit, but on the other, acting like a hero to the point that you
>think you might have a heart attack to protect unoccupied property is
>a little extreme.  Glad you are alright, but you might consider
>slowing down just a bit in rushing to the rescue and evaluating the
>dangers and consequences.

It wasn't "acting like a hero", it was doing what had to be done.  Today I confirmed
what I'd suspected - neither property is insured.  Not surprising, as insurance is
practically impossible to get up here - another reason for our fire department
efforts.  One property owner is about to retire here permanently.  The other is a
lady who is undergoing cancer treatment and who uses her place as a respite from the
horrors of that.  In both cases, it's more than "just property".  For that matter, MY
place is more than just a building.  I hope the community will turn out and work as
hard if my place is ever at risk.

As for having a heart attack, if that had happened, I can't think of a much more
honorable thing to be doing....

>FWIW, your post came at a good time for me.  I was just debating with
>myself whether I had made a good choice choosing cemplank siding
>instead of less expensive vinyl in my rural location, and underpinning
>my home with concrete block.  After reading your story, I feel much
>vindicated.  Next I'll be doing something similar to what I did in
>Florida, installing a couple of lawn sprinklers on the TOP of the
>house, leaving the hose pipe to them dry unless a fire threatens.  I
>also bought an 1100 gallon tank from TSC that will be a continuous
>reservoir of water _uphill_ from our house, in addition to the stream
>below it.  Those tanks are reasonably priced (under $500), but a vinyl
>kids pool or a roll of hardware cloth made into a circle and covered
>with hay and poly can make even cheaper water holding tanks.  I also
>might copy your idea of picking up old fire extinguishers and having
>them placed around.  Wouldn't have thought of that one on my own.
>An ounce of protection, and all that.

We've put our heads together some more today and have come up with an interim fire
pumper solution until we can get an actual fire truck.  One of the property owners
owns a scrap metal yard.  He processes a significant number of 500 gallon liquid
cubes, the kind that has a poly tank inside a tubular metal cage.  These typically
contained soft drink syrup or some other edible product.  He's bringing a couple of
those up tomorrow.

I keep a spare submersible pump on hand for my well.  I tested it today and found
that it will do well over 100 psi with good flow.  The plan is to put one or two of
those cube tanks in the back of my medium duty cube van, place the submersible pump
in said tank and wire it to the generator that I always keep in the truck.  The same
guy who's getting the cube tanks is also bringing about 100 ft of 1.5" industrial
rubber hose.  I already have a fire nozzle that I can attach.

The more that I think about this design the more I like it.  The truck box is
insulated so I can place a small heater in there and keep the water, the hose, the
generator and the fuel warm and ready to go regardless of the weather.  Just drive
the truck to the scene, pop the back open, hit the starter on the generator and go.
The best part is, it costs us nothing other than stuff we already have on hand.

I see a lot of these cube tanks (I think they call them cubitainers) at scrap and
recycling yards.  An excellent water tank that costs little to nothing, depending on
the source.

On other fronts, the smoke eaters were here all day quelling hot spots.  Looks like
they did an excellent job, as I've yet to spot a single hot spot with my night vision
scope.  They had a couple of interesting pieces of equipment.  One was a canvas
backpack containing a 5 gallon water bladder that feeds a hand pump sprayer.  This is
used to quench embers.  I've seen a hard tank version of that but never a soft-side.
Gotta get one of those.

They had a small tanker on site and hooked to it was several hundred feet of that
same 1" flat ribbon hose that many RV'ers use.  Like this:

I chatted with a supervisor and he pointed to a compartment on the truck, telling me
that they keep a couple thousand feet of that hose onboard.  Makes sense.

The pumper had that same Vanguard 27hp engine driving a centrifugal pump.  What was
interesting was to see that the priming pump used to fill the centrifugal pump with
water was a common ordinary Shureflow RV water pump.  It takes suction from the water
tank and discharges into the centrifugal pump's scroll housing.  Neat.

The state forestry department was sufficiently impressed with our work that today
they dropped off a bundle of fire rakes and some other equipment for us to use in the
future.  Nice.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,misc.rural
Subject: Re: Fire
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 01:42:40 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 12 Nov 2007 19:53:44 -0800, Don Bruder <> wrote:

>In article <>,
> Neon John <> wrote:
><snip for space>
>> One of the property owners owns a scrap metal yard.  He processes a
>> significant number of 500 gallon liquid cubes, the kind that has a
>> poly tank inside a tubular metal cage.  These typically contained
>> soft drink syrup or some other edible product.  He's bringing a
>> couple of those up tomorrow.
>> I keep a spare submersible pump on hand for my well.  I tested it
>> today and found that it will do well over 100 psi with good flow.
>> The plan is to put one or two of those cube tanks in the back of my
>> medium duty cube van, <more snip for space>
>Sounds like a decent plan, but...
>How "medium" is this "medium-duty" cube van? As in, don't forget that a
>gallon of water weighs a bit less than 8.5 pounds - one of those things
>is going to be tipping in at more than two tons once it's filled. Add a
>second one and you've got four-and-a-quarter tons aboard, which isn't
>even counting the pump, genny, hose, the tanks themselves, etc.

GMC/Izuzu W-5, 19.500 lbs gross.  I've carried a full size car in the box and barely
noticed it's presence.  This is not a toy truck.

>Is the beast still going to be mobile in a useful manner with that much
>aboard? Maybe it's fine on pavement, but what happens if the water needs
>to get somewhere that isn't paved? What about baffles/anti-slosh? I'm
>not familiar with the containers you're talking about, but 500 gallons
>is pretty close to 70 cubic feet, so they'd be what? Somewhere in the
>neighborhood of 4x4x4 feet? so maybe sloshing won't be a significant
>factor - but that might be something that you need to pay attention to.

Sloshing isn't a problem.  Especially when the tank is completely full.  The
container size itself de-sloshes the load.  I hauled more than one legal-limit load
of cubitainers during my trucking days and it was no different than any other low-CG

As for travel capabilities, everything we'll be operating against is within a
half-mile radius of my cabin.  Not that it matters much since the truck will be well
under its gross weight.  It is definitely not an ORV but then with the amount of hose
we'll have, it doesn't need to be.

Believe it or not I really do think through such details when developing plans.  Even
if the truck were grossly overloaded, frankly, I would not give a sh*t as long as it
would move and I could keep tires and wheels underneath it.  Us having fire
protection is just a little more important than worrying about whether the
drivetrain's life might be shortened or that the truck might have to be driven a bit
more slowly.

Besides, perfection is the enemy of good enough.  I can have oh, 90% or more of the
ideal within a day or two.  Perfection, in the form of an actual 4X4 tank truck and
the heated building to house it in, is apparently going to take many more months of
red tape hassles and perhaps another fire.  I'll take the immediate 90% solution any


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,misc.rural
Subject: Re: Fire
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 02:11:45 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 12 Nov 2007 20:09:06 -0800, "Alan Robinson" <> wrote:

>    The only 'gotcha' I see in your plan is the pump. Since the pump on a
>submersible is -above- the motor, you're not going to be able to completely
>empty a tank if you're dropping the pump in from the top on the end of a
>length of hose - unless you give it enough hose so the pump is lying on its
>side in the bottom of the tank, then you run the risk of overheating the
>motor when the water level gets down to where the housing isn't covered.
>Yes, I know that that's when you would be shutting it off / switching it to
>another tank, but it's something that may not be remembered in the heat of
>the moment - particularly if you're not the one by the tanks and pump when
>it happens. Maybe use a reverse-acting pressure switch that'll shut the pump
>down if the output is less than 15-20 psi (with an override lever for
>initial startup - very common around here for 'ditch' irrigation pumps that
>might clog the intake screen)?

I'll do considerable testing, of course, but I don't expect the suction head to be a
problem.  I tested it today taking suction from a standard galvanized wash tub.  It
had no problem pulling water right down to the point where it sucked air.  I don't
know if it could prime itself with water below the pump but it can definitely suck
water all the way down once primed.

I have one of those switches like you describe on my well pump.  It protects the
house in case pipe breaks when I'm not there or if, for some reason, the pump loses
suction.  Depending on how the pump performs, specifically whether it overloads too
badly while nearly dead-heading, the system may get such a switch.  The decision will
be between a switch and a mini-circ valve.  I'm hoping that the pump will dead-heads
gracefully - after all, a stuck pressure switch isn't exactly a rare occurrence.

If problems arise in testing to the point that the well pump doesn't work
satisfactorily then I'll just come up with a conventional industrial submersible
pump.  I think I know where one is.  Given that we're 20+ inches short of rain this
year and that the leaves all fell in the last week (lots of fresh, dry, loose fuel on
the ground), my priority now is to get something going quickly even if it isn't
optimal.  Even if the worst happened and the pump burned out after sucking air, it
would have already done its duty.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,misc.rural
Subject: Re: Fire
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 18:41:33 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 13 Nov 2007 13:52:14 -0800, "Kevin W. Miller" <>

>I say more power to you and good thing you live where you do. Around here
>somebody'd probably sue you 'cause you saved their house but didn't save
>their shed, or some such fool thing.

Thanks, Kevin.  As I tell friends, I live 100 miles and 100 years from the city. I'll
take this community, warts and all, two to one over anywhere else I've ever lived.

Moving on, about sun-up this morning the rains finally came.  It's been raining off
and on all day and it's pouring right now (6:30 PM).  Hallelujah!  Never has water
been more welcome.

This little fire has really stirred community spirit.  It was a VERY close call.  If
either of those cabins had caught, fire brands from the inferno would have probably
burned everything else.

The last two days have been very productive.  I spent yesterday with another neighbor
administering blow jobs to all the surrounding properties.  The kind that involves a
leaf blower, you dirty mind :-)  Today two of my neighbors and I rewired their well
pumps so that there is an outdoor switch on each cabin.  They already had
freeze-proof outside hydrants.  We hung hose racks for outdoor storage.  We're going
to do a couple more tomorrow if the weather cooperates.

The first 500 gallon tank should be here tomorrow.  I'll be using my couple hundred
feet of 1" industrial grade water hose until the real fire hose arrives.

Our biggest problem the other night was not having anything to work with, even though
we had plenty of hands on deck. One guy (I'm not making this up, I swear) put out the
bottom rung of some wooden steps by peeing on it.  Only tool he had at hand, ahem, so
to speak. That problem is quickly being remedied.

Another set of fire rakes and one of those 5 gallon water backpacks arrived today.
More to come. We're going to hang a fire rake on every building, with the handles
painted fluorescent orange so they're easy to spot. One of the weekenders owns a
cabinet shop and is making some stand-alone fire extinguisher boxes (the "in case of
fire break glass" style) to be mounted on poles around the community.  We should be
in real good shape, fire protection-wise by the weekend.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Look what followed me home
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008 20:17:14 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Wed, 16 Apr 2008 14:12:37 -0400, Frank Tabor <> wrote:

>An old irrigation pump with a an old Chrysler inline 6 cyl engine
>makes a good pump setup.  It should mount on the frame of that truck
>just fine.  The pumps are good for 6-700 gpm and work good to drop a
>hard suction into pool or creek and supply water.

We've supposedly been given (though I haven't seen it yet) a trailer-mounted
fire pump similar to that.  A V-4 Wisconsin engine hooked to a pump with an
approx 4" inlet and 3" outlet.  If it shows up, I'm going to hook it to a
semi-permanently installed standpipe in the river and have it plumbed to
quick-fill our tanker(s).

>That truck isn't going to be able to carry very much water.  I'd make
>a into a bodacious pumper and let an old heating oil truck become the
>tanker for it.

Believe it or not, that truck has a GVW of 7700 lbs.  The two tanks, 500
gallons total, will weigh only about 2 tons so there is plenty of margin.

I hope that we can score an old tanker.  I'd have loved to have gotten that
septic tank pump truck that I mentioned earlier.  Just have to wait to see
what comes along for free.

We're also mounting an approx 2500 gallon tank (old underground gas tank) on
one of my lots.  It'll be kept full from my well.  That tank can dump-fill the
fire truck several times before it's used up.

I'm going to have a LOT more water than the FS trucks.  They only carry 175

The problem with multiple pieces of equipment is having the people here to
operate them.  Lots of people on the weekends and sometimes during the week in
the summertime.  Odds of getting a transient's attention AND having him be
capable of operating the equipment are slim. Almost no one in winter.  The
other permanent residents are geezers and for most of 'em, catching 'em sober
enough would be the trick....

The two most likely causes of fire here are arson and errant camp fires.  Both
result in brush fires that can be handled by one person if he gets alerted
quickly enough.  Since I wrote up the fairly major arson fire last year, we've
had another smaller one, this time caused by wind and camp fire.  We killed it
with rakes and shovels.  Fortunately it happened on a weekend when lots of
people were here.  It would have been a mess during the week.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Look what followed me home
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008 20:05:21 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Wed, 16 Apr 2008 12:49:25 -0500, Bob Giddings <> wrote:

>On Wed, 16 Apr 2008 01:11:54 -0400, Neon John <>
>>from my friendly local scrap yard.
>>Amazing what people are throwing away these days.
>Looks like a good project for you, John.  What are you going to
>do for a pump?

Two possibilities.  We're applying to receive a skid-mounted pumper from the
Forest Service, a unit that has been surplused.  It has a 175 gallon tank, a
V-twin Vanguard powered pump, a powered hose reel and 200 ft of hose.  Also a
foam mixer, I think.  If we get it, it will probably be next year, given the
government's red tape and lightning-fast pace (NOT!)

Option two.  I have a couple of 250 gallon bag-in-box (plastic tank inside a
metal tubing skeletal frame) tanks.  Those will be headered together via the
2" drain ports on the bottom.  This is so the water levels will remain the
same.  Into one tank goes a submersible well pump.  It will be powered by
either an electric start generator or an inverter.  The inverter is the
emergency backup in case the gas engine won't start.

I already have all this stuff and have lashed it together and proved that it
works.  The 1hp pump dead-heads at over 200 psi (pegs my gauge) and maintains
over 100 psi while pumping several GPM.  Until we can come up with something
better, I have 100 ft of 1" industrial "garden hose" and a suitable nozzle.
I'd like to find a powered hose reel and some 1.5" fire hose but that'll take

All this stuff is getting mounted on a steel skid that just sits in the dump
bed.  That's so we can use the truck for other stuff, like hauling gravel for
maintaining our roads.  When the skid is off the truck it will be sitting on
an old power pole trailer (just a chassis, no bed) positioned so that anyone
with a trailer hitch can hook up and go.  One of the other permanent full time
residents will probably leave his truck hooked to the trailer when the dump
truck is in use.

A third alternative is that the skid can be slid into my cube van.  I haven't
figured out an easy way to do that yet, absent a fork lift, so it's option 3.
I have a chain fall over a pole strung between two trees to lift the skid on
and off the dump truck.

>When I joined the Austin Fire Department, the chief mechanic
>there was famous for inventing his own crash truck.  He took an
>old water tanker, added a pump, welded a dump tank on top to hold
>protein foam, adapted a couple of washing machine agitators to
>reach down into the water, and
>wa la!  A crash truck on the cheap!
>The funny thing is that it actually worked pretty well.

Sounds slick.  Our previous candidate for fire truck was a septic tank pump
truck that someone drove (!) onto the scrap metal yard to junk.  My friend got
distracted and by the time he remembered to call down to the yard to have it
set aside, they'd already run it through the crusher.  Damn!  It had a nice
PTO-powered pump too.

On that truck, was the foam concentrate just dumped into the main water tank?
The FS fast responder trucks have foam systems but the system is some sort of
post-mix process - I haven't had a chance to look very closely yet.  Does the
foaming properties deteriorate after mixing with water?  Just wondering why
you don't just dump it in ahead of time?


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Look what followed me home
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2008 15:03:15 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 17 Apr 2008 08:21:48 -0500, Bob Giddings <> wrote:

>Hey, John, I was not suggesting you use protein or one of the
>heavy foams for your application.  I just told the crash truck
>story as an example of what can be cobbled together with spare
>parts and a little seat-of-the-pants engineering.


>What you want for rural structure and brush firefighting is
>something that will make your limited water go farther.  That's
>what is known as a "water stretcher" or wetting agent, which is a
>surfactant that changes the surface tension of water so that it
>spreads out better and doesn't fall away from surfaces as easily.
>You can premix this stuff, but I've forgotten what the shelf life
>As I remember they claim you can use 10% of the water to put out
>any given fire, but that's probably a stretcher in itself for
>sales purposes.  It does make the water go farther, but part of
>that is teaching your volunteer to use the water sparingly, with
>a sort of burst technique.

Interesting phenomena, those stretched claims.  That seems to happen
everywhere surfactants get used.  I wonder why?  The stuff, AKA "water wetter"
hit the hotrod scene about 20 years ago.  Similar exorbitant claims were made.
It does help a little when added to coolant but it doesn't double the
effectiveness of a radiator like early claims stated.

Anyway, now that I actually HAVE a truck, I'm doing my research.  Thanks for
the info.  This has been a year in the works.  It started off, interestingly
enough, with one of the other full-timers asking me if they could park the
fire truck that they already had on my property.  After I had the trees cut
and the pad excavated, turns out they didn't really have a truck, they were
just dreaming about one.  Dealing with chronic drunks is sometimes tedious :-(
So anyway, the fire got lit, so to speak, in me and I started looking for
something suitable.  Enter my friend with the scrap metal yard and the rest is
becoming history :-)  Maybe we can get our ISO rating out of the cellar.  It's
so bad now that the only way I could get insurance was to subscribe to a paid
VFD over 50 miles away.  They'd get here in time to wash away the ashes after
they cooled.

Lunch is over, time to go back out and work on this thing some more.  It's
almost running :-)


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Look what followed me home
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2008 05:45:07 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 18 Apr 2008 01:38:00 -0400, John Andrews <>

>Neon John wrote:
>> from my friendly local scrap yard.
>> Amazing what people are throwing away these days.
>I suppose now you will be looking for spray cans of red Rustolium!

Spray can?  I was thinking roller and brush :-)

>Hey, good luck with that rig.  Seems to need an air cleaner.
>Anything else?

The air cleaner, such as it is, is laying in the floorboard.

So far the only thing I've identified that I must have to get it minimally
running is a battery and new tires.  The tires are dry-rotted to the cords.
Just today a relatively late model truck bobtail came to the scrap yard
wearing a nice set of skins.  Them's mine!  There'll be a good battery show up
in a few days.  My mini-goal is to get this thing going with 0 dollars
expended.  Even the gas in the tank came from a running to-be-scrapped car :-)

Stage two upgrades will include a high power alternator (175 amp Leese-Neville
semi alternator already ready to go), electronic ignition, an electric fuel
pump and an aux electric cooling fan (from a parted-out electric bus's air
conditioner) for if the truck has to sit and idle to run the submersible pump
on the inverter.

Stage two repairs include replacing the wiper arm on the passenger side,
replacing or sleeving and machining the door hinges, replacing the tail lights
and a few other bits.

Stage three upgrades will include an end-to-end rewire, more battery capacity,
overhaul/upgrade of the wiper motor (can you say sloooooooooow?) and getting
the climate control working correctly.  Then convert the brakes to dual
circuit. Or maybe sooner, depending on how white-knuckle the thing is with 500
gallons of water on the back :-) Probably also include welding a new deck in
the dump bed since it's pretty beaten up.

Fortunately, our entire little community is no more than a half mile across so
I won't be racking up the miles....


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Look what followed me home
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2008 17:16:38 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sat, 19 Apr 2008 02:24:20 -0400, John Andrews <>

>I got to looking and found this set of links about painting a
>car with a roller.  Some good details here.  I might even do my
>RV this way!

Thanks, John

I was kidding about the roller, having latex paint and a fuzzy roller in mind,
but this looks doable.  Hmmmmm....


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Grilling: be careful out there
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 19:36:31 -0400
Message-ID: <>

Meant to post this earlier in the week.

The Green Cove motel almost burnt last weekend thanks to a careless tenant.
The lady who runs the place woke up early Sunday morning to find a fire
smothering on the redwood deck that overhangs the river.  A hole about 6 ft in
diameter had been burned through the deck and supporting structure, along with
several feet of railing.

The cause was the tenant placing a cheap charcoal grill on a wooden picnic
bench.  The grill was the small portable rectangular one that Wallyworld sells
that has fold-up wire legs.  Apparently during the night the legs folded up,
the grill came down on the bench and set it on fire.  The bench set the deck
on fire.  The deck burned through and let the grill and the remains of the
bench fall into the river where it still rests.

The only thing that saved the place was the fact that the humid atmosphere
over the river had caused a heavy growth of mold/fungus on the wood that made
it not burn very well.

Message here is, be careful with that grill, especially if you're using a
cheap one that can fold up.  Many of the FS picnic tables up here have
rectangular burn marks on them so this must not be a rare occurrence.


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