Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Fire Hydrant Crisis Hampers Response of Fire Department

Published:Wednesday | March 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM

With an increase in bush fires plaguing Kingston and St Andrew, the island's fire department has said it is facing a serious challenge with an increased number of hydrants out of commission, while others are without adequate water to refill units responding to fires.

Of the 4,471 fire hydrants within the Kingston and St Andrew region, only 2,934 are currently working. Of the total number of fire hydrants, 777 are out of commission.

The Half-Way Tree Fire Station has been most affected by the problem. Of the four main hydrants that service the station, only one is fully operational.

According to Patrick Gooden, senior deputy chief in charge of operations at the fire department, the hydrants have been out of service over protracted periods.

"There are several malfunctioning units on Hagley Park Road, including one in front of Crown Motors - that one has not been used for some time now," said Gooden.

"I am certain of that because I think that the pit would have been covered over with some form of concrete," he added. "Further down Hagley Park Road by the stop light at the Ministry of Works, that one is not working."


Inadequate flow


Gooden also explained that some of the hydrants do not have an adequate flow of water.

"The one off Waterloo Avenue, for some time now, it was in good condition. In recent times, however, I am not so certain if the flow is adequate to service the trucks," he said.

Added Gooden: "At times, it will be working. The volume of water you will be getting from it is inadequate to really fill the unit at the required time."

He said the lack of working hydrants in the Half-Way Tree area has made it increasingly difficult for firefighters to respond to calls which have been on the increase in the last month. According to Gooden, the Half-Way Tree station receives an average of 12 calls per day.

"We are now entering the height of the bush fire season, so we have noticed that there is a rapid increase in the number of calls that we have been receiving," he said.