Homeowner creates pump that taps pool water to fight fires

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SAN DIEGO -- Five-hundred dollars and a little ingenuity can replace your backyard hose with a fire hose capable of spraying 75 times the volume.

“This is going to get pretty loud,” laughed David Lippincott as he started it up.

The Kensington man lives about a mile from canyon between Talmadge and Kensington that broke out in flames earlier this month. The Fairmount Fire threatened a handful of homes forcing dozens to evacuate. Lippincott ran down the street to see if he could lend a hand.

“We were helping people in their backyards with their garden hoses and all they could do was wet down the grass,” he said.

The retired engineer noticed how many people in the neighborhood had backyard pools and how nobody seemed to be using them to fight the flames.

“Got it, so you might as well use it!” he said.

Going online, Lippincott found companies selling backyard fire hose pumps and kits for thousands of dollars. In an effort to make it more economical, he pieced his together for about $500, or 5% of the cost of the competition.

“A lot of people are curious,” he said of his neighbors.

He posted the instructions on how to build one of the pumps on the website Nextdoor, and received questions and interest from neighbors immediately.

It comes at a time when fires continue to break out around the state, while fire insurance seems to be tougher to come by. A spokesperson from the State Insurance Commissioner’s Office noting that 350,000 people will be unable to re-up on their fire insurance for next year. The reason, with more and more fires breaking out, insurance companies don’t want to back homes in fire-risk areas. If they do, the Commssioner’s Office says it’s usually at a premium price that’s two to three times as expensive.

So, will more and more people feel motivated to get creative to protect their homes?

“Overall, that’s not a great plan,” said San Diego Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Steve Wright. “Fires are moving extremely fast and are a lot hotter than people realize. So, we don’t want one person out there with a hose line thinking they are going to knock down the fire that’s going to come.”

Lippincott said he knows the dangers. In fact, he plans on being one of the first out of town.

“The idea is you don’t wait until everything is one fire,” he said. “You just get it wet and the fire won’t get up here.”

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