1928 Kalispell Ordinances: Pipe Casings
I recently found an online directory of Kalispell City ordinances and thought it would be intriguing to see what some of the ordinances of the past were. The last post covered the prohibition era rules in Kalispell. This one deals with an entirely different topic: pipe casings.
Ordinance #414, effective May 7th, 1928, dealt with the inability of firemen to put out fires in the basement level of Kalispell homes. This ordinance was put in place to “enable the fire department.. to promptly.. extinguish fires [in]..basements that are used for the storage of goods or merchandise..” The firefighters were losing valuable time putting out fires because they had to cut holes through wood and concrete to gain access to the basement.
Therefore, the ordinance indicated every building with a basement built for storage must have ground floor pipe-casing holes constructed in and through the first floor, extending down to and even with the basement ceiling or bottom of floor joists so the fire department can put a water circulating nozzle through it.
In addition, any goods or merchandise that are stored in the basement must not interfere with the use of a nozzle through casing holes, and no goods were allowed to obstruct those holes.
Finally, building plans would not be approved by the building inspector unless the first floor plan included the pipe-casing holes above the basement. Violation of this ordinance would be punishable by an up-to-$50 fine.
I found this to be very confusing. It sounds as though homes were being built with basements that had no access from the first floor. But if that were true, then there should have been a door on the outside of the basement to allow access. If there was, wouldn’t the fire department have been able to go in that way? And why would anyone build a basement for storage with no way to get to what you are storing?
More information available?
So I looked for more information about this ordinance. I did some research to find any building plans from the early 1900s that had a closed-in basement. I couldn’t find any. I did find some old descriptions of homes and none of them mentioned a basement.
Then I searched for any newspaper articles from that time about house fires, thinking that perhaps a large fire in Kalispell in the 1920s was the cause of this specific ordinance. I didn’t find any mention of house fires in Kalispell during the 1920s.
OK, what about current building plans? Did the current Kalispell building codes discuss basement pipe casing hole requirements. Or maybe the basement codes included information about fire department access. Nope.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any more information that might have explained what this ordinance was all about. So this is a 1928 ordinance that just doesn’t make sense (at least to me!)
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