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City fire hydrants are in serious disrepair, fire chief warns

Thursday, July 27, 2006

(Photo)
Brazil Fire Chief Tobey Archer

"The city's decaying water distribution supply grid system and out-of-service or low flow hydrants pose a great problem for the citizens of Brazil ..."

2006 fire hydrant report

By ANDY MCCAMMON

tamccammon1@yahoo.com

The Brazil City Fire Department's 2006 hydrant report indicates the city's fire hydrants and underground water lines are falling deeper into disrepair.

The report, presented to city council members Tuesday by Fire Chief Tobey Archer, indicates that 40 percent of the city's 255 fire hydrants are either out of service or low-flow, which means they accommodate 500 gallons per minute or fewer-- a level insufficient to combat many fires.

According to the report, "the city's decaying water distribution supply grid system and out-of-service or low flow hydrants pose a great problem for the citizens of Brazil, the fire department and its members. A plan of action to improve the water distribution system, increase water line sizes and replace hydrants annually is needed."

Portions of Brazil Street and National Avenue are among the areas with water line or hydrant problems that could come into play in the event of a fire, Archer said.

The use of a sophisticated computer mapping service allows his department to maximize fire protection in Brazil, but long-term improvements to the city's infrastructure will ultimately be needed.

In Archer's opinion, the problem should be addressed sooner rather than later.

"Hydrants are really easy to push back and push back," he said. "Nobody worries about it until their house is on fire."

He said he is working on potential solutions to the problem, but declined to discuss specifics.

"I've got a couple of proposals that I'm not at liberty to discuss right now," he said.

But cost is an issue. Archer said the replacement of a single hydrant can cost as much as $5,000, and overhauling the city's underground water system would be a monumental undertaking. Grants may be available, he said, but would require a significant match from city coffers.

Still, Mayor Tom Arthur said the report represents an important step toward tackling the problem.

"Tobey's research will help us identify the areas that have the most need," he said. "(Then) we can get in there and get these taken care of."

Archer cautioned residents not to panic in the meantime.

"It's a problem that gets a little worse every year, but we've still got the capability of putting your house (fire) out." he said.



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