Darren Doyle, story and photo
Today's Fiscal Court heard from Mr. Randy Vincent, a member of the Chalybeate Fire Department, as he explained the need for more fire hydrants to be installed around the county.
The discussion stemmed from a recent fire that claimed a cabin on Oak Hill Road and that if a usable hydrant had been available in the area, the damage could have possibly been lessened. During the fire, a Chalybeate Fire Truck struck another vehicle in an accident after filling up the truck from a hydrant in Brownsville. Mr. Vincent, who has also served on Louisville area fire departments, said that the hydrant in the Mohawk community was inadequate for filling up a fire truck, as much more pressure is needed in order to do so, which caused the department to have to travel to Brownsville for water.
He also said he was told by Brownsville City Officials that city hydrants are not supposed to be used for county fires, something Vincent didn't understand.
We asked Brownsville Jerry Meredith about the policy and exactly how it worked. "The city of Brownsville purchases water from the County Water District. Every gallon that we use, we have to figure out a way to pay for," he said. "We're not trying to be difficult, and one fill up here and there on a fire truck won't make that big of a difference, but we have to look out for the city, too. That's why the policy is in place."
Mayor Meredith noted that even though he was a city official, he was also on a county fire department, so he certainly understood Mr. Vincent's point. He also said that the city would never block water usage from a city hydrant for a county fire truck in case of emergency, but that if this policy wasn't in place, it wouldn't be that difficult for the city's reservoir to be emptied in the case of a large fire. "The county sure needs more hydrants throughout," he said.
Mr. Vincent said he spoke to the Edmonson County Water District about either moving the existing hydrant to a better location that would allow more water pressure, or simply installing another one instead. Vincent said that the Water Dept. told him it would cost around $2000, and the fire department would be responsible for the cost.
Vincent came to ask Fiscal Court for help, whether it be through county funding, any possible grants, or other possibilities, as he didn't feel like it was the fire department's responsibility to pay for hydrants, especially when he said Chalybeate VFD was already over the yearly budget as it stands.
Judge Cannon said the county had not ever picked up the tab for any hydrants and that the Water Department had received grants for them in the past. He encouraged Mr. Vincent to seek local fundraising for the project. Vincent said he felt as though many residents might be hesitant to donate money for the project, as they already pay taxes, and many feel like tax dollars should help with the funding. He did note, that he, personally, would donate money as a resident, as many others would likely do the same.
Judge Cannon said he would contact the Water District and research any and all options that might be available.
The court discussed the issue and it was noted that there were several more hydrants in the county that don't fill up fire trucks at an efficient rate, due to the water line size being too small. Vincent said he realized that the overall issues would be long term projects and nothing would be expected overnight.
Chalybeate Fire Chief Daniel Johnson told us today that the department was going to put a fundraising plan in place for now, as the department feels the new hydrant has an immediate need. We'll update this story as details become available.
In other items on the agenda: