Hydrant system needs analysis

Published 4:49 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sheridan resident Hanna Cain thought her home’s salvation was just a few feet away. Until she was told those fire hydrants weren’t made for fighting fires.

Cain lived in the Lawrence Commons apartments until a Sunday morning blaze destroyed the structure and left her and her three children without a home.

Several fire departments responded and drained several tank trucks of water in effort to quench the blaze. Their efforts may have prevented further damage but they weren’t able to save Cain’s apartment.

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One hurdle was the fact that the fire hydrant, which sits in the yard of the complex, didn’t have the water needed to fight a fire, according to South Point Fire Chief Richard Stevens.

Because it is actually outside the village of South Point, the water service is supplied by Hecla Water. A spokesperson said that the hydrants in that area do not have the pressure or flow to fight fires but could have filled up trucks.

The logic behind that simply doesn’t add up. Why have a fire hydrant at all if the device will be essentially useless when the need arises, usually a situation where time is of the essence.

We hope to see all of Lawrence County’s water-providing agencies use this as a learning experience and a wake-up call that it is time for a full examination of the water systems and the capacity.

Residents deserve to know that the fire hydrants in front of their homes will actually be of use in an emergency. Fire fighters need to know as well.

Thankfully, no one was injured in this fire, but our communities may not be so fortunate next time.

Material goods can be replaced. Lives cannot.