Most property and business owners probably have no idea it’s there, but thieves have taken notice.
Any building that houses an indoor sprinkler system, such as large retailers, factories, college dorms or nursing homes, have a simple bronze or cast-iron hose connector on the outside of the building, said Richmond Fire Chief Buzzy Campbell.
These connectors allow firefighters to attach a supply hose from a fire engine to boost water pressure of the sprinkler system, the chief said.
The fire department conducts inspections of buildings once or twice a year, but Campbell was just driving through the Richmond Centre retail complex Thursday when he noticed that six hose connectors had been removed from buildings.
Campbell alerted Fire Marshall Mark McFerron, who investigated further.
McFerron found one connector missing from Tractor Supply, one missing from Lowe’s Home Improvement, three missing from the Carriage Gate Shopping Center and one missing from the Richmond Mall.
A missing connector makes a firefighter’s job “doubly hard when we don’t know that it’s missing,” the chief said. “It changes our tactics when we fight a fire.”
Parts and labor to replace a connector could run around $500, although the “scrap value of the metal is probably no more than $20 to $25,” Campbell estimated.
The missing connectors have been reported to the police department, who will alert local scrap dealers of the stolen items, he said.
According to the Richmond Police Department’s Friday press release, the Carriage Gate Shopping Center connectors were made by Elkhart Brass Manufacturing and their estimated value is $1,200.
Business owners are responsible for their own hose connectors and should be on the lookout for any suspicious activity near them, the fire chief advised.
Putting a protective cage around the connector area is one solution, he said, but a key would have to be provided to the fire department. The fire department can secure a connector with its own lock with the owners cooperation.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@
or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.
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