Re: drivable emergency access. was RE: "Cohousing Overlay"asZoning Regulation
From: Wayne Tyson (
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2011 16:24:40 -0700 (PDT)

----- Original Message ----- From: "Tim Pierce" <twp [at]>
To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:40 PM
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ drivable emergency access. was RE: "Cohousing Overlay"asZoning Regulation

Kay Argyle wrote:

"... I am totally unaware of situations where firefighters have
walked away from a blaze because they disagree with a tree or a turning

I have strong views about externalizing costs. The fact that firefighters
will do their job regardless, doesn't let the architect, builder, home
owner, etc., off the hook. Quite the contrary.

"I agree very much with this, but consider that Philip's comment here was
a response to Wayne's suggestion that "some [fire departments] might not
enter the project property if access/egress is poor."  This seems to be
an attempt to make it clear what the consequences are, not to excuse
poor planning.

"(You may take this as a plea for being careful about including proper
context in future messages, to bring two threads together.)"

Mosaic Commons Cohousing
Berlin, MA

twp and CoHo:

I haven't heard of any firefighters "walking away" from any but the most out-of-control fires either, but if a captain has a muddy lawn to cross to get to the optimal rig position to save, say, a two-story condo surrounded by trees and footpaths, he/she is not likely to risk the community's equipment or firefighters' lives. The decision may be made to stand off to a position where conditions are at least reasonable, increasing response time, extending hose lines, etc. They're even less likely, for example, to put a hook-and-ladder rig next to a multi-story structure to save the inhabitants quickly. Firefighters WILL often rush in where fools have trod, and try to save them, and suffer criticism because they were a few seconds too late, sometimes losing their own lives or suffering injuries in the process. The idea here is to help those lacking the experience and training to understand that there's more to good planning than aesthetics alone or presumption that a certain access width and plan is excessive without citing the basis for it.

(I'll second that plea, but I'm trying to satisfy the complaints about leaving unnecessary tails and keep the discussion open as long as a point seems to have merit. Alternatives of any kind are worth trying, and a frank but courteous discussion might lead to still more improvements in the arts of communication.)

This is a life-and-death subject. Anyone who, with reckless disregard, plants a tree or paves a path that leads to death, injury, or property loss must share responsibility (though I admit that most get off scot-free in the real world. But there is no escaping one's own feeling of guilt after it's too late to consider that "I might be wrong."


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