Survey finds dozens of fire hydrant errors

Jun. 11, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

More than 150 fire hydrants are missing, defective or undocumented within Lee County, according to a county review of its hydrant system that was presented to local leaders Monday.

A report detailing this situation was discussed during a joint meeting between Sanford City Council and Lee County Board of Commissioners — which included Council members Samuel Gaskins, Rebecca Wyhof and L.I. "Poly" Cohen and Commissioners Amy Dalrymple, Kirk Smith and Jim Womack — which was held to discuss interlocal agreements.

The catalyst for the report was a constituent who claimed a fire hydrant was never installed on his road, said Smith, who led the presentation and serves on the Lee County Fire Advisory Board. The board tasked each department with cataloging the number of hydrants within their district, he said.

In total, 159 deficiencies were documented:

* Three dead-end hydrants, meaning the hydrant is at the end of a water line and has less flow than one that is connected on both ends.

* Five hydrants that were too close to the ground and firefighters can't attach the hose adapters.

* Thirty-three hydrants that were listed on the county's Geographic Information System (GIS) but can't be located.

* Twenty-seven hydrants that were physically located but not in the area listed on GIS.

* Eighty-three hydrants that were physically located but not listed on GIS.

* Three hydrants that were damaged or inoperable.

* Five hydrants that were never installed in the Northwest Pocket map.

For the lowest homeowner's insurance rating, all property must be within 1,000 feet of a hydrant, Smith said. These missing hydrants could mean several hundred dollars in yearly savings for taxpayers, he said.

The report provided excellent information, Gaskins said, and the hydrants not listed on GSI should be added to the files.

The city Public Works Department maintains the hydrants, and Sanford City Manager Hal Hegwer said hydrants can cost up to $5,000 apiece. The city will be looking to see what repairs are required after reviewing the report, he said.

Several of the county hydrants were installed through a grant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hegwer said, and city had little involvement or input in where they were placed.