Private Fire Line Fee Customer Advisement Letter

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Private Fire Protection?
  2. What is the Private Fire Protection charge on my Horizon Utilities water bill?
  3. Why is there a fee for Private Fire Protection?
  4. How was the Private Fire Protection fee determined?
  5. What is the current rate for Private Fire Protection?
  6. How does the unmetered fire service line fee compare to the fixed charges applicable to metered lines?
  7. Do other cities have Private Fire Protection fees?
  8. I never use or have never used my fire protection system. Why do I have to pay a fee for this?
  9. How do I know if I have a Private Fire Protection system?
  10. Where does the revenue from the Private Fire Protection fee go?

1. What is Private Fire Protection?

Private Fire Protection is any fire protection system supplementing or in addition to the public fire protection system (public fire hydrants and supporting infrastructure) that relies upon the public water system for its water supply. Private fire protection can include but are not limited to booster pumps, sprinkler systems, private fire hydrants or any other system that relies on the public water system for supply with the designed purpose of fire protection and suppression.

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2. What is the Private Fire Protection charge on my Horizon Utilities water bill?

The Private Fire Protection Charge is a charge from the City of Hamilton that only applies to customers that have private fire protection systems which rely upon the public water system for their water supply via an unmetered fire water service line.

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3. Why is there a fee for Private Fire Protection?

The ratepayers that use the City of Hamilton water supply pay, through their water rates, a proportionate share for the public fire protection systems throughout the entire water supply, treatment and distribution systems. The most visible part of the fire protection system to most rate payers is the street fire hydrant. However, beyond that fire hydrant are a complex system of pumps, pipes and water reservoirs to provide water at sufficient pressure to that fire hydrant. This includes maintaining sufficient water treatment capacity to provide adequate amounts of treated water to supply both the domestic needs of customers but also the public fire protection needs of citizens, as well as, adequately sized water mains, booster pumps and storage facilities.

Customers can rely on the Public Fire Protection system for their fire protection needs at no additional cost. However, if a customer requires additional fire protection for their property, in the form of a sprinkler system or other fire suppression system relying on the public water supply for its water supply via an unmetered fire water service line, the private fire protection fee applies. This is done so that the beneficiary of the Private Fire Protection system is paying their fair share for the system that supports their private fire protection/suppression system.

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4. How was the Private Fire Protection fee determined?

The most common method of charging for a private fire service is to base the charge on the size of the customer's unmetered fire service connection. The service size is the best measure of the demand that can be put on the City's water supply system in the case of fire. A fixed charge (sewer surcharge is not applied) has been developed for having an unmetered private fire service line taking into consideration the fixed charges applicable to combined service lines which provide water for domestic purposes, as well as, in some cases for a private fire protection system. An American Water Works Association (AWWA) equivalent factor table was applied to develop the rates for fire lines based on service line diameter. Additionally, the City reviewed private fire line rates in other jurisdictions where such charges exist.

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5. What is the current rate for Private Fire Protection?

The current rate schedule for private fire protection is based on the diameter size of the unmetered fire service line serving the property and the current rates as approved by City Council are effective January 1, 2017:

Unmetered Service

Size of Connection Monthly Rate
mm inches
25 1 $3.15
38 1.5 $7.25
50 2 $12.60
75 3 $28.35
100 4 $50.40
150 6 $113.40
200 8 $201.60
250 10 $201.60
300 12 $201.60

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6. How does the unmetered fire service line fee compare to the fixed charges applicable to metered lines?

The current fixed charges for metered water lines (effective January 1, 2017) are significantly greater than the fees for an unmetered fire line:

Size of Connection Hamilton Fixed Monthly Charges
mm inches Metered Unmetered Fire Line
25 1 $24.90 $3.15
38 1.5 $49.50 $7.25
50 2 $79.20 $12.60
75 3 $158.40 $28.35
100 4 $247.50 $50.40
150 6 $495.00 $113.40
200 8 $792.00 $201.60
250 10 $1,138.50 $201.60
300 12 $1,683.00 $201.60

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7. Do other cities have Private Fire Protection fees?

Yes. The allocation of private fire protection costs to the users of those systems is a practice that exists in many North American municipalities. There are many jurisdictions that require meters on all water service lines including dedicated private fire line services and as such, no fees are required for an unmetered water line.

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8. I never use or have never used my fire protection system. Why do I have to pay a fee for this?

Whether or not a fire protection system has been used or not does not determine whether a business will be charged a private fire protection charge. The presence of an unmetered water service line which purpose is for fire protection is what determines whether or not you will be charge this fee. Only if the service is completely disconnected from the City's water main will the charge no longer apply.

A public or private fire protection system supplied by the public water supply has to be "at the ready" 24/7. The necessary pumps, pipes, back-up power supplies and storage facilities must be in place to supply the domestic needs of the City, its public fire protection system and the additional private fire protection systems on an immediate basis. Additionally, the City has over time had to oversize servicing to properties with private fire protection systems and will have to fund the ultimate replacement of the oversized infrastructure requirements.

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9. How do I know if I have a Private Fire Protection system?

A Private Fire Protection system is present if there are sprinklers, private fire hydrants, booster pumps or other fire protection or fire suppression equipment. The water supplied to the Private Fire Protection system may come from a separate water line that is not required to be metered, dedicated only to the fire protection/suppression system which is simply known as a fire line. The supply for fire protection/suppression may also be in the form of a water line that supplies both the domestic needs of the business, as well as, the fire protection needs. This type of fire protection/suppression system is known as a combined fire line and in such cases, these lines must be metered.

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10. Where does the revenue from the Private Fire Protection fee go?

The revenue for the Private Fire Protection fee is accounted for in the overall revenues of the City's Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Rate budget.

Provincial legislation requires municipal water and sewage systems to be sustainable over the long term to ensure the protection of the health of citizens and the environment. Therefore, the City's Rate budget must be financially self-sufficient. That is, the water and wastewater user fees the City collects must be adequate to fund all of the activities to support the City's water, wastewater and stormwater systems. The Rate budget does not receive any property tax funding.

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