UPDATE: Feb. 26th @ 1:25 p.m.: Enumclaw Fire Capt. Randy Fehr states there are now 10 fire department connections confirmed stolen. Four local schools are also affected.
Metal thieves have stolen brass fixtures from at least five fire department connections outside of businesses on the Enumclaw Plateau, fire officials announced Friday.
The discovery was made after Fire District No. 28 was alerted by the Valley Regional Fire Authority that stolen fire department connections (FDCs) from Enumclaw were recovered at a metal recycling facility in Pacific, Capt. Randy Fehr said in an email to Patch.
It was initially thought the theft affected only one business but fire officials did an area check and found it affected five businesses. They continue to check other businesses Friday to ensure FDCs were not stolen or tampered with, Fehr said.
According to a department press release, the connections are located next to or on the outside of a building. They allow crews to boost the pressure in fire sprinkler systems or provide water to fire hoses inside the buildings.
They’re typically located in a remote portion of a property and often are not readily visible. This makes it easy for thieves to steal the brass without being seen.
Thieves typically get $15 to $25 for each brass connection but it costs about $225 to replace a single fire department connection. “This does not include labor, or the required obstruction inspection which could send the cost of repairs in excess of $1,300 per business,” Fehr said.
It’s the individual building owners or their insurance companies who would ultimately be responsible for replacing the stolen FDCs, he said.
The thefts put the public and businesses at risk if there is a fire. In this case, some of the affected businesses house elderly and disabled citizens. “If there is a fire in any of these buildings, we cannot rely upon these fire sprinkler systems working as designed until repairs and necessary inspections are completed,” Fehr said.
Lacking the connection, firefighters can’t supplement the sprinkler system or get water to crews who may be working inside multi-story buildings, the release said.
This type of theft is rampant in the Puget Sound region, Fehr said. The Fire Department offers the following tips to protect businesses from these types of thefts:
•Report suspicious activity by calling 9-1-1. No one except the fire department or a sprinkler installation company should ever be removing or working with an FDC. Theft of FDCs typically takes place late at night.
•Businesses should check their FDCs regularly to ensure they are in place. Again, theft should be reported immediately.
•Salvage yards should never accept any brass painted red, that states, “Fire Department Connection,” or that has threaded hose couplings.
•Anyone who sees where an FDC might normally be located but is not, should report the fact to the business. If the business is closed, call 9-1-1 to report the possible theft.
•Businesses can protect their property by purchasing a locking plug for their FDC. Information on approved plugs is available by calling the Enumclaw Fire Department Fire Marshal’s office at 360-615-5756.
FDC Theft PDF Information