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Fire Department

We all love the Fire Department and the great work they do ... until we decide to build a house. That's when the Fire Marshall decides that you have to improve the road to your lot, you have to have a big enough area at the end for the fire trucks to turn around, and by the way, there is also no fire hydrant within 1/4 mile of your lot, so you need to install a hydrant as well. And if you are intending to leave the road as dirt, the Marshall will probably insist you blacktop it so that the fire trucks don't bog down in the rain. (I know this is San Diego County which is practically a desert, but that doesn't mean anything to the Fire Department).

I don't want to cast the Fire Department in a bad light here. If someone dies in a fire at your new home because the road wasn't good enough for the fire truck to reach your home in time, you'll be the first one to complain. But these regulations have stopped many a land owner from building a house on his or her land. Just remember to make an ally of the Fire Marshall early on in the process. Fire Marshalls are friendly, helpful people who will try to help you as much as they can, but within the regulations.

The San Diego County Fire Code Regulations are here. Things to look out for are

  • Distance from the lot to the nearest fire hydrant.
  • Whether or not secondary access is needed if the lot is on a dead-end street.
  • Is secondary water storage needed (usually a tank, for remote areas).
  • Whether automatic fire sprinklers are required in the home.
  • If a road leads to more than two dwellings it needs to be 24 feet wide - one or two homes needs 16 feet width.
  • The need for a turnaround at the end of the driveway, usually with a 28 foot radius



This website has been written and developed by Rob Ransom, PhD. Rob has extensive experience working with buyers and sellers of vacant land in San Diego County, CA. Although Rob currently has a California real estate license he is retired from selling real estate.

If you have comments or suggestions regarding this web site, email Rob at the address below.


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