By Kiet Do

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (KPIX 5) — A Silicon Valley tech veteran who relocated to deep into the heart of fire country in the Santa Cruz Mountains has taken DIY fire protection to the next level.

Scott Jamar is a former electrical engineer who decided the increased fire threat where he lives in Santa Cruz County made it worth the time and trouble to build his own high-pressure, firefighting hose.

His setup uses standard firefighting pipe fittings and a water pump that has been converted to run on propane, which is a more stable fuel source.

It’s all connected to a 5,000 gallon tank.

When asked if neighbors or friends thought he was crazy for putting the tank and pump apparatus together, Jamar admitted, “I got a few funny looks.”

Jamar says it can pump water at more than 100 gallons per minute for about 45 minutes. That’s enough to wet the house and surrounding vegetation.

Compare that to people using a regular garden hose to fight fires while trying to save their homes.

During big wildfires in the Santa Cruz Mountains, it can take some time before firefighters can navigate the twisty, narrow roads to help residents.

“I might get myself a few more minutes, just wetting things down to keep the embers from catching,” said Jamar. “I don’t have any illusions that I’m going to save my house. But if I can give myself a margin of error, it’s worth the effort.”

Wendi Kramerpugh at Pure Valley Water in Scotts Valley installed Jamar’s water taml. She said the number of phone calls inquiring about water storage tanks more than quadrupled during the Loma Fire last year.

She says homeowners who put off a personal fire protection system do so at their own risk.

“It’s like an insurance policy. You got it, you know? You may never use it, but that one day, you might need it,” said Kramerpugh.

As for Jamar, he’s not deterred by those who have doubts about his home-build fire protection.

“If people want to chuckle, that’s OK. Hopefully this will inspire people to do something similar,” he said.

  1. Newspaper stories of the forest fires in Washington State last summer featured a homeowner who had built a house designed to withstand fire for several hours, and the house performed as expected. That is what people should build, who choose to live in the forest or far from fire department protection. Of course this man’s high powered fire hose and water tank are good as well, but his house could probably be much better designed to withstand fire. I would argue for underground spaces to be built for animals to survive fires as well. Since humans are the usual sources of these fires, we should try to minimize the harm we are causing to nature.

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