How much water is used on large apartment fires?

Jun 29, 2021, 6:30 PM
apartment fires water...
(Fire crews dousing the Millcreek apartment fire. Photo: Paul Nelson)
(Fire crews dousing the Millcreek apartment fire. Photo: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE COUNTY – With apartment fires in Ogden, Salt Lake and Millcreek, how much of a drain are these having on our water systems? Water managers report the amount of water used to put out fires is small compared to what we put on our lawns.

However, fire officials confirmed the amount of water they use can add up.

It’s hard to know precisely how much water is poured on these fires since crews don’t keep an exact log of what they use. Fire officials reported every fire is different and the amount of water used depends on the severity of the blaze. 

However, let’s use the Millcreek apartment fire as an extreme water source example. Unified Fire Authority Spokesman Ryan Love said they needed to use their “master” water streams to knock down the heat. Additionally, those water lines have the most powerful nozzles.

Love said, “We average anywhere between 800 to 1,000 gallons per minute as we’re fighting those defensive fires.”

That’s per hose. Love recalled they had several different hoses aimed at the apartment complex for about one hour.

“I believe we had four to six different master streams going on the Millcreek apartment fire,” According to Love. “So, if you do the math, of 800 to 1,000 gallons per minute for almost an hour’s span of time, that’s quite a bit of water.”

Officials estimate they used over a quarter million gallons of water on the Millcreek fire alone, and that’s just while they were in their defensive mode. More was used when it was safe enough for crews to fight the blaze from inside the building and to douse hotspots, later.

However, Love stated UFA is mindful of the drought, and they only use water when they have to.

“By no means do we overuse water or waste water,” Love said. “What we do is we try to meet the active energy that’s burning with the appropriate amount of water to be able to cool off that heat component.”

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How much water is used on large apartment fires?