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Community and Q&A

Fire Truck Turn-Around Requirement

ohioandy | Posted in General Questions on

I’m part of a group exploring more sensible growth in my small rural town, focusing on affordable housing.  In objecting to smaller lot size, one of the many barriers thrown up by our planning commission is an insistence that a fire truck be able to park adjacent to any new residential units, and then be able to TURN AROUND when exiting (rather than having to back up.)   Is this a thing?

Immediately on the table is a one and a half acre plot that could hold a grouping of, say, eight small houses, in the style of a pocket nieghborhood.   I envision a parking lot at one end, with a wide walkway giving access to all units.   If it’s wide enough, is this not acceptable access for a fire truck?  Am I up against state laws, or is this an issue of local preference?

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  1. user-6184358 | | #1

    Yep, It is a thing. Fire turnarounds and access are a big part of development planning. The fire truck parking to house is usually kept below 150 ft. You could make the grass area drivable with grasspave or something that would support a fire truck and make a signed fire lane thru the center.. Check here at the bottom of the page for info checking. This will give you an idea of what is typical.
    The rules are from the fire code that is adopted from nation wide text.

  2. Expert Member


    Development permits usually have a host of other agencies that must sign off on any proposals. They typically include Highways, and the Fire Department having jurisdiction over the area. What is deemed acceptable access and provision for firefighting is based on national standards, but ultimately up to the Fire Chief. Here that includes access and a turn-ar0und within 75 yards of the building, and in the absence of a municipal water supply, a tank of a certain volume.

  3. brandons | | #3

    I develop infill projects and have run into your situation multiple times. Your jurisdiction has likely adopted IFC (international fire code and) and uses appendix D to decide access requirements.

    You may encounter a fire turn around apparatus as a solution. It takes up space and costs a dwelling or two to free up the room but it should appease code officials. In my city I have received some leniency on some apparatus dimensions such as 16’ access width versus 20’.

    If available, I would try to schedule a preapplication meeting with your planning department and request fire, engineering, and utility departments. Not sure how you’re going to supply water and sewer to these but that could throw a wrench into your plans as well. Do you have a civil engineer that you’re working with?

  4. bcade | | #4

    FWIW I'd highly recommend joining, some of the best people in small scale development are there including Ross Chapin who literally wrote the book on pocket neighborhoods. Pretty much any issue you could encounter has already been discussed and if not you can ask and almost certainly get tons of valuable feedback.

    It sounds like you may be advanced enough not to need it, but if you're just starting out, I also highly recommend the boot camp puts on. It really helps flatten the learning curve.

    Good luck!

  5. ohioandy | | #5

    These are all great resources--thanks so much.

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