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JFRD: Faulty hydrants have little impact on firefighting success

9:46 PM, Oct 28, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Southside house fire where a hydrant was not operational is raising concerns among some community members, but the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department says the faulty hydrant had no effect on the outcome of the fire.

"The first fire truck that arrived, they couldn't get water out of the fire hydrant that was closest to the house that caught on fire," said Peggy Hampton. 

Hampton lives a few houses down from the home that caught fire early Saturday morning on Kelsey Island Drive. She says she witnessed firefighters running hoses to the next fire hydrant and it worried her.

"The same thing could have happened to any of us down here," added Hampton.

Despite the homeowners claims that firefighters did not arrive on scene untill 20 minutes after the call, JFRD records show at 4:59 a.m. they were notified and at 5:08 the first truck was on scene. JFRD says the home was already engulfed and that a working fire hydrant wouldn't have changed the outcome. The family lost everything.

"This is the reason why our department routinely arrives at the scene bringing along hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water," said Tom Francis, Public Information Officer for JFRD. "We would be a very inefficient fire department if every fire suppression call-out mandated that we have to have an operational hydrant."

Francis says there are18,000 fire hydrants in Jacksonville and each one is evaluated once a year by firefighters in each district.

"We go and check the hydrant to make sure that the cap comes off, that the stem is easily opened, and of course that there's water coming out," said Francis.

If a hydrant is faulty a work order is written up and JEA is responsible for maintenance. JEA says there was no work order for this specific hydrant. JFRD is looking into it.

"People need to understand that each and every structure fire, multiple units respond and each of them is carrying hundreds and hundreds of gallons with them. There's certain parts of our town, for example, in Mandarin where there are no hydrants at all and we know. That's why we have specific tankers set aside to respond to that particular area," said Francis.

If you have any questions about the hydrant near your home and when it was last tested you could contact the
Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department at 904-630-0434.

JFRD also wants to remind people that this is the time to make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home and that you follow the safety precautions for space heaters now that we are entering the cold season.

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