There has been much discussion in recent weeks about the status and condition of Fire Hydrants in the City of Alpine and adjacent areas within the County. For those of you who were unable to attend Tuesday’s City Council meeting, I thought it would be appropriate to speak to the history of the inspection program and understand where we are currently in the remediation process.
During last years Budget preparations, City Staff recommended we budget $5K towards Fire Hydrant repair and possible implementation of new hydrants as needed. This amount was passed by City Council through the normal budget approval process. Councilor Fitzgerald approached me during the fall to request we start the process as soon as we could during this fiscal year. Department Captain Mark Scudder was subsequently instructed to go through the testing during their weekly Wednesday meetings. This process had not been completed previously since the 2011 time-frame and we were anxious to get back on the process of yearly testing.
The testing took place Wednesday evenings through the fall season with output to the Council at our 2nd meeting in January. There are a couple of things to consider with the output: 1. We at the City wanted to see the issues that we out there and 2. The majority of the non-functional hydrants were due to the Fire Department not being able to open the hydrants using normal force. It’s important to also understand that if the Fire Department was responding to a fire and could not open a hydrant, they would go to the next closest one.
The next step of the process we had mapped out was to have our Public Works department address the hard to open Fire Hydrants and the Water department to address the hydrants with water flow issues. I detailed out a listing of those exact hydrants at the last City Council meeting and that report can be viewed on the City Manager Report link on this website.
Our Public Works department has been working through their list and finding that most of their hydrants can be opened with a little extra force. Hector has taken a video of one of those hydrants and shared with us: click on the following link to see the video.
We are very committed to resolving all the outstanding issues and our Fire Department will do a final check after remediation to ensure they are comfortable with the operation during an emergency operation. We will report out quarterly at the City Council meetings.
Finally, our Fire Department will be testing all the hydrants annually/regularly each fall.
Thank you for your questions and concerns. Safety is important in the City of Alpine. If you have further questions, please feel free reaching out to me at City Hall.
Erik Zimmer, City Manager
PS – As an aside: We currently have approximately 19 volunteers on our Volunteer Fire Department and would like to get that number back up to 35. We are interested in residents of the City and County who have always wanted to participate in the local department and welcome new Volunteers.