Monday, June 30 2014, 07:18 PM EDT
"Recreational Use" of Hydrant Blamed for Fire Damage
Firefighters are blaming nearby residents for delaying their response to a Chattanooga house fire.
Firefighters responded to a Wilson Street kitchen Sunday afternoon. After emptying a 250 gallon water truck, they went on the hunt for a hydrant. Bruce Garner with the Chattanooga Fire Department tells us "every second, every minute counts when you are trying to fight a fire. In this particular case when they used their tool to open it up and get the water going, it did not operate."
Because that fire hydrant didn't work, the next closest one was more than two blocks away. "They had to go look to another hydrant and that caused a bit of a delay before firefighters could make entry and put the fire out," says Garner.
Firefighters check hydrants twice a year. The Wilson Street hydrant was last inspected in May. That's when firefighters say residents were using the bright yellow cast-iron for recreational purposes.
"Some grown-ups thinks it's okay to use the hydrant to open it up and let the kids play in the water. The firefighters have warned those individuals that they are using the improper tools to use the hydrant and it's actually somebody else's water anyway. So, you're also stealing water," says Garner.
A risky decision that ended with 60,000 dollars worth of damage. Now, Garner hopes this tragedy will serve as a cautionary tale for the community. "Our advice is that they should keep their hands off the hydrant."
Tennessee American Water provides water to that hydrant. They say this is the second time that it has been broken in less than a month. Not only are they losing money on the stolen water, but also the cost to fix the hydrant each time that it's broken.