Fire officials in Redwood City today warned property owners that brass fittings are being stolen from sprinkler systems and standpipes throughout the city.
Fire Marshal Jim Palisi said the metal fittings are "critical fire department connections" that allow firefighters to pump water into fire systems in the event of a structure fire.
If firefighters respond to an emergency and the fittings are damaged or stolen, the department's ability to fight a fire is severely hampered, Palisi said.
"If the fire department connections are missing upon our arrival, immediate operational changes must occur, which slows our rescue and fire suppression efforts," Palisi said.
At least 18 standpipe fixtures have been stolen from locations around Redwood City and San Carlos, probably to be resold as scrap metal, Palisi said.
"These things are usually made of brass, bronze or iron," Palisi said. "They probably get stolen late at night."
Palisi said the stolen fixtures were reported by observant citizens or discovered by fire department personnel on routine inspections.
The Redwood City Police Department has been made aware of the problem and is actively looking for people loitering around fire department connections.
Fire officials are asking building owners and property managers to inspect their fire sprinkler and standpipe systems daily, and to report any thefts immediately.