EDITORIAL: Hydrant review serves citizens in several ways

Jun. 12, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

It’s always a pleasure to see our elected officials working together.

On Monday, Sanford City Council representatives L.I. “Poly” Cohen, Samuel Gaskins and Rebecca Wyhof met with Lee County Commissioners Amy Dalrymple, Kirk Smith and Jim Womack, and a main topic of conversation was a report regarding fire hydrants.

Such meetings usually prove to be beneficial for our citizens, as evidenced by Monday’s meeting.

Commissioner Smith, who led the presentation and serves on the county’s Fire Advisory Board, noted that the catalyst for the report was a constituent who claimed a fire hydrant was never installed on his road.

The Fire Advisory Board tasked each department with cataloging the number of hydrants with their district, Smith said. The review revealed the disturbing news that more than 150 fire hydrants are missing, defective or undocumented within Lee County.

Consider these findings:

• 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, meaning 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.

We should be thanking the constituent who came forward with the original concern. Otherwise, we may not have known about all of the above-mentioned issues.

These fire hydrant problems must be addressed, especially those where hydrants are unusable, damaged or inoperable.

What if there were a fire that could not be put out because of an inoperable hydrant? What if someone were to die because firemen could not get to the water from a non-functional hydrant?

Then there is the matter of homeowners who could save money from nearby hydrants. As Smith points out, for the lowest homeowner’s insurance rating, all property must be within 1,000 feet of a hydrant. Therefore, these missing hydrants could mean several hundred dollars in yearly savings for taxpayers.

Thanks to this report, local officials can correct the these hydrant discrepancies — which will prove beneficial for our county citizens.