By Elesha George
More frequent reporting between APUA and the Fire Department could be the answer to reducing the number of faulty fire hydrants across the country.
Chief Fire Officer Elvis Weaver told OBSERVER media that an unspecified number of hydrants may not be working.
He said although fire officers had not yet run into problems with water supply for their trucks, they have had to adopt a strategy requiring officers to mark non-functional hydrants.
“The Fire Department absolutely has no challenges in getting water for the fire trucks. There are a lot of hydrants in Antigua. Yes, they may not have water, but we know where the hydrants are that have water.
“We have what we call a hydrant inspection, where we go around the island and we check the hydrants,” he explained.
He said such patrols were often carried out weekly to check which had water. Those in service are marked with a yellow X; those not working are painted with a red X, the officer said.
Superintendent in APUA’s Water Business Unit, Wayne Martin, said there are about five or six fire hydrants in every village, adding that a number of variables could lead to an empty fire hydrant, including water suppression in the area or fireplugs that have been tampered with.
“If they go to a fire hydrant and they say it’s not working that could mean no water in the area at that particular time. We have fire hydrants that people tamper with during the drought,” he said.
Martin explained that APUA workers sometimes receive calls from residents about unauthorised water trucks which come in the middle of the night to illegally take water from the hydrants. When they examine the area, he shared, workers usually notice pockets of water under the hydrants or pipe clamps which have likely been used to open them.
Martin said the unit generally has a good relationship with the Fire Department and volunteered to address the situation personally, telling OBSERVER media that if the department can identify where the hydrants continue to show signs of defect, APUA will assess and address them.
The Fire Department currently uses four fire trucks – two at St John’s Fire Station and two at All Saints Fire Station – and one pumper. There are also two government-commissioned fire trucks, Weaver added, which are at the port ready to be cleared.