Graphic representation of Traverse Mountain wildland/urban interface.

On Tuesday, March 28th, Lehi City Council considered a new ordinance that will change requirements for development in and around Traverse Mountain.

Based on seven findings of Lehi City Fire Chief Jeremy Craft, developers must now install in all occupancies in new buildings, approved automatic sprinkler systems. The installation shall be in accordance with nationally recognized standards.

The following text is a portion of the new ordinance:

The areas identified are the Traverse Mountain Area and Dry Creek Corridor wildland-urban interface area. (See graphic)

The seven findings of Chief Craft are:

  1. A portion of Lehi City is situated on the slopes of and at the base of the Traverse Mountain, with drainage from the North, including many established washes that have existed for many years, which when flash floods occur, could overwhelm the drainage system, and could result in conditions rendering fire department vehicular traffic access unduly burdensome or impossible.
  2. Lehi City is situated near the Wasatch fault that follows the 1-15 corridor and extends through Lehi City, which is capable of generating earthquakes of significant magnitude. These faults are subject to becoming active at any time. There are also known traces of fault with evidence of Holocene in Utah Lake near the Lehi border. Lehi City is particularly vulnerable to devastation should such an earthquake occur. The potential effects of earthquake activity include isolating Traverse Mountain area from the surrounding Lehi area and restricting of eliminating internal circulation due to the potential for collapsing of highway overpasses and underpasses, along with other bridges in the area, or an earth slide, and the potential for vertical movement rendering surface travel unduly burdensome or impossible.
  3. Lehi City is bisected by State Road 92 and Interstate 15. These highways are heavily traveled by transportation vehicles carrying known toxic, flammable, explosive, and hazardous materials.
  4. The potential for release or threatened release of hazardous material along one of these routes is highly probable given the volume transported daily. Incident of this nature will normally require all available emergency response personnel to prevent injury and loss of life and to prevent, as far as possible, property loss. Emergency personnel responding to such aforementioned incidents may be unduly impeded and delayed in accomplishing an emergency response as a result of this situation, with the potential result of undue and unnecessary risk to the protection of life and public safety and, in particular, endangering residents and occupants in buildings or structures without the protection of automatic sprinklers in designated areas.
  5. A portion of Lehi City is situated along the Dry Creek Corridor beginning at 1200 East and extending South to Nuttall Drive. This area is designated part of the flood plain by the Army Corps of Engineers. This area experiences floods each year during the spring runoff typically during the months of April, May and extending into June. When these floods occur, it could result in conditions rendering the fire department vehicular traffic access unduly burdensome of impossible.
  6. The topography of the Dry Creek Corridor presents problems in delivery of emergency services, including fire protection. There are limited fire hydrants within the Dry Creek Corridor. These hydrants may be inaccessible during wildland firefighting activities dur to their location. Accessing these hydrants could place firefighters and equipment too close to any fire that occurs along the corridor… In some places the road grades within the Dry Creek Corridor are excessive with 1200 East being 12 percent grade and 600 East being 14 percent grade. These steep grades make it difficult for fire apparatus to access fire areas safely.
  7. Climatic conditions during the summer and fall, including high winds and fires from lightning strikes are likely to occur in dry, dense materials and once started, can expand extremely rapidly. These storms create numerous serious difficulties regarding the control of and protection against fires in Lehi City. The hot, dry weather typical in these areas coupled with low humidity frequently results in wildfires that could threaten Traverse Mountain area and the Dry Creek Corridor within Lehi City.
  8. Lehi City is a semiarid to arid desert area and experiences water shortages from time to time. Those shortages can have a severely adverse effect on water availability for firefighting.

These findings resulted in the Traverse Mountain area designated “Moderate Hazard” under the 2015 International Wildland-Urban Interface Code. The Dry Creek Corridor is designated “High Hazard to Extreme Hazard” under this same code.

In an interview with Chief Craft, he explained that this ordinance is a continuation of an earlier ordinance adopted in 2009. Every three years the ordinance is updated. Based on new findings, fuel types (foliage) in Traverse Mountain and the Dry Creek corridor have created a requirement for sprinkling systems in new inhabited buildings in those areas. Craft also added that hydrants in the Dry Creek Corridor are located in the bottom of Dry Creek and will be difficult to access in case of a fire. He added, “This is a big ole insurance policy.” In case of fire of any kind, outside resources can now be obtained immediately from county, state, or even federal agencies.

The ordinance was unanimously approved in City Council meeting March 28th.

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