1-Mar-2009 (Sun) Wherein the death of a thousand cuts proceeds apace.

The conversation went like this:

    "The fire marshal says we need a different connector on the thingy by the door."
    "How is this possible? Did they change the connectors on the fire trucks since 2001?"
    "I don't know. He's very insistent, though."
    "Ok, I guess we have to do it then. Find out what we need and get one."

So, someone had the sprinkler maintenance company come out and they installed this thing. Besides the fact that there's a cap on it, can you tell them apart? Neither can I.

The old one:
The new one:

They charged us $800 for this. $450 for the part, and $350 for "installation". Which, as far as I can tell, was "unscrew the old one and screw on the new one."

Except I have a strong suspicion that the pipe wasn't the only thing getting screwed here. In an ideal world, one of my henchmen would have said "$800 for that, you must be mad", found out the model number, and just eBayed the stupid thing. I do not live in that world.

You recall the other classic scam the fire-equipment-service people pull, right? As I reported in 2000:

You need to have your extinguishers charged once a year. So after nine months, someone from the extinguisher company will stop by and say "I'm here to service the extinguishers." Doubtless whoever answers the door will just say, "uh, ok." Then they bill you for it, and mark the extinguishers as being good for another twelve months. But this means they're charging you for four years worth of service every three years!

This world: less than ideal.

15 Responses:

  1. ding_0_ says:

    ahh, the old faucet looks all urban/hiphop, where the other is all steam punk to keep up with the styles.

  2. scullin says:

    I suspect that this has something to do with San Francisco's refusal to adopt a the state standard for fire hose connectors, so that during the next great earthquake, out of town fire crews will stare sadly at our non-standard fire hydrants, because the city is too cheap to install standard ones. It's not like they've had a problem with fire before.

    But you, oh business owner, can be forced to upgrade your building on your own dime, so you can have a connector that supports both the standard and the short bus fire hoses. It's just not clear where the water will come from.

      • scullin says:

        This is a slightly stale SF Gate story on the issue. I found some more recent blog entries on the issue, but citing blog entries seems somewhat circular.

        • rjhatl says:

          Instead, San Francisco plans to hand out adapters -- which would narrow the 3-inch hose connections on its hydrants to fit the standard 2 1/2-inch hose -- to outside fire departments in a mutual aid situation.

          "Hey Bob- do you have the adapters?"
          "No, I thought you had 'em."
          "Nope, Ernie told me that he gave 'em to you."
          "Let me call dispatch and see what's going on"
          *radio static*
          "Hey dispatch- this is engine eleven. We need a couple of those fire hydrant adapters"
          "You need what?"
          "The adapters that let out of town fire engines hook up to our fire hydrants"
          "They're little brass thingies that screw on to the hydrants"
          "I don't know what you're talking about. Let me go ask Phyllis if she knows. Hey Phyllis? Do you know anything about hydrant ring thingies?"

  3. bifrosty2k says:

    As a former employer of henchmen, you give them too much credit.
    The mandate from on high is "for every dollar you give away, so will YOU give away that dollar".

  4. remaker says:

    As much as I hate to defend a bureaucracy, I was intrigued by the DNA update, so I did some digging:

    I found: SF Muni code 9033.6.1 Amended 11/14/2007 by Ordinance 259-07 (Page 17) setting the standard which has relieved you of 0.8 kilodollars.

    Fire code changes every three years, it seems. The good news is that San Fransisco has now switched to national standard hose threading for dry standpipes (3 inch), which makes it easier for neighboring fire departments help out in the event of a major fire disaster.

    Though it seems pricey, I would prefer that someone qualified install and test the connectors to The Stuff That Stops The Fires.

    You can thank the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 for the fanatical dedication of fire departments to the standardization of firefighting connectors.

    The unexpected expenses still suck, regardless of the good intention. Still a better use of money than the ABC nonsense.

    • jwz says:

      Dude, seriously, it's a pipe fitting. It screws on.

      Also, like I showed in those pictures, it doesn't look any different from the old one. It certainly doesn't appear to be a different diameter.

      Thanks for the research, though. The previous comments led me to believe that SF was still not following the national standard. Or maybe that's for hydrants and not standpipes.

      • dzm6 says:

        Details in the "before" photo are a little unclear, but it looks to me like it's female-threaded and that the new attachment is male threaded.

        Beyond that I see no clear and obvious differences, so I'm guessing it must be a more subtle thing. I'm thinking remaker is correct about 3-Inch National Hose Threading requirement. It's mentioned on page 17 (903.3.6.1, 903.3.7.1, 905.2.1) of the linked o0259-07.pdf, and it's mentioned specifically at SF Fire Department regulations about Spinkler and Standpipe Systems. Maybe the old one was threaded all wrong? Counter-Clockwise-Threads-Per-Cubit or something?

        I suppose I shouldn't find it surprising that the inspector wouldn't just say "oh yeah, this has to be changed because of XYZ." That would be far too easy.

        It boggles the mind that those various hunks of brass are worth $450. I think I see a future career in "used" fixtures being for sale cheap. And $350 to remove the old connector and thread on the new one(s)? Fricken astounding.

        • dzm6 says:

          Details in the "before" photo are a little unclear, but it looks to me like it's female-threaded and that the new attachment is male threaded.

          Wait. In the new photo is the cap male-threaded and screwed into a female-threaded fixture, or is the cap female threaded and screwed onto a male-threaded fixture? Damn.

  5. mc_eddie says:

    Dear DNA Management.

    While I enjoy coming to your club on a semi-regular basis, I find it troubling that the new brass glory hole you installed by the door doesn't meet my needs. Due to the ... subtle stature of my penis, the longer brass neck of the opening make it impossible for me to make contact with the soft forgiving lips of Devon like I was able to do with the old fixture.

    As a loyal customer, I am sure that you will address this problem immediately.

    Thank you for you time and consideration.

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