Metal thieves have hit several Kent valley businesses recently stealing brass fire department connections. These connections are located next to or on the exterior of a building and allow the fire department to boost the pressure in fire sprinkler systems or provide water to fire hoses inside multistory buildings. Many of the buildings with the connections are apartment complexes and senior housing. None of these high occupancy buildings have been affected so far.
According to Kent Fire Department Assistant Fire Marshal Ray Shjerven, at least 12 businesses have reported thefts, though that number may be much higher as businesses discover missing connections over time. A connection is typically located in a remote portion of a property and often is not readily visible. This makes it easy for thieves to steal the brass without being seen. This type of theft has been rampant throughout the Puget Sound area even though a connection, which costs a business between $400 and $1,500 to replace, only gets thieves $15 to $25 each at a salvage yard.
The danger to the public and to a business is during a fire. If the FDC is missing, firefighters will not be able to supplement the sprinkler system or get water to firefighting crews inside the building of multistory businesses. This endangers not only the firefighters, but anyone inside the building. Increased damage to the building itself and higher rebuilding costs are also possible. Sprinkler systems are critical to any building, especially those with senior residents whose ability to evacuate a building is limited.
The public can help the Kent Fire Department protect local businesses and those living in multi-family housing.
- 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 Kent Fire Department Fire Marshal’s office at 253-856-4400.
If anyone has information related to the theft of a brass fire department connection, they can contact the Kent Police Department tip line at 253-856-5808. All information received is confidential.