Dry hydrant issues still concern for fire chief

The West Bay Road and District Volunteer Fire Department want to inform the residents of the Kingsville and Glendale areas of Inverness County, that the dry hydrant located in Glendale is no longer functioning properly and has not been since last fall.

The department notified the councillor of District 6 and the CAO of Inverness County in the fall of the situation at this dry hydrant location and has been contacting both parties on a regular basis since that time to have the issue addressed. The councillor for our area has been passing our concerns on to the CAO however there has been no contact made to our department from the municipality regarding a possible fix for the hydrant to date, as of this letter being written.

It is the position of the fire department that the public works department of the municipality should be looking after these types of problems. After all, you do not see rural volunteer fire departments that have hydrants on municipal water systems doing the repairs.

The same should apply for dry hydrants in area communities.

We are encouraging the residents of these areas to contact their local councillor and the CAO of Inverness County to have this situation corrected. At present we do not have an adequate fill site in these areas should we have a fire emergency. This dry hydrant was installed back in the early 1990’s and needs major repairs at this time.

Our volunteer fire department would also like to inform the residents of the Cleveland Area, County Line Road, and Lower River Road areas, that the dry hydrant located on the Lower River Road in the Cleveland area is also non-functional at this time.

The County of Richmond was first notified of this situation through a Richmond County Fire Services meeting in February of 2019, and shortly there after followed up by an email addressed to the Richmond County clerk who had ask for some clarification about the dry hydrant issue.

This issue has been brought before the previous councillor and the current councillor with the issue still not being addressed.

The fire department fought a fire at a home in the Cleveland area during October of 2019 for which water was hauled from an Inverness County dry hydrant which was over five kilometers away due the Cleveland dry hydrant, which was less than one kilometer away, was not functioning. The department continued to address the dry hydrant issue at the Richmond Fire Services committee meetings.

In February of 2020 our department was called to a house fire on the Lower River Road, with the dry hydrant still not repaired. The departments involved in fighting the fire were forced to haul water from the Evanston area.

The first, and closest hydrant in Evanston was not accessible to the fire service due to its location. The second hydrant hook up attempt was at the intersection of Anchor Road and the Whiteside Road. This attempt failed as well due to the hydrant being frozen. One tanker was then sent to the Louisdale water tower for water, while two more were sent to the Whiteside water tower which had very low water pressure and took almost three times longer than normal to fill the trucks. When we approached the Richmond representatives about our dry hydrant concerns, we also asked for access to the closest municipal hydrant in Evanston which is located halfway between Anchor Road and the Evanston sewer plant with that request being denied.

Once again, we are reaching out to residents of the areas affected in Richmond County by the lack of a functioning dry hydrant, and for that matter, the residents in Evanston who should be questioning the availability of working hydrants in the Evanston area.

The District 3 councillor was made aware of this issue during the municipal election and again at the December 2020 council meeting. We had a meeting back in early Spring and have heard nothing from the councillor since. Please reach out to your District 3 councillor and the municipality to help get this issue resolved for everyone’s future safety.

With the amount of training, meetings, incident calls, fundraising efforts which have been drastically reduced due to COVID, thus lowering the income of the fire department, volunteer firefighters are already stretched to the amount of time required to be an active volunteer firefighter. Volunteer fire departments are trying to meet NFPA standards for equipment, PPE, and fire apparatus vehicles. It appears the municipalities are either forgetting their emergency services are volunteer, or they simply don’t understand what it takes to run a volunteer emergency service.

In closing, it is the opinion of the West Bay Road & District membership that dry fire hydrants must come under the municipality’s realm of looking after. If municipalities supply municipal water hydrant services, they should also look after supplying adequate dry hydrants in more rural areas. NFPA, National Fire Prevention Guidelines state that rural areas should have dry hydrant access every five kilometers.

Furthermore, currently with so many rural countryside sub-division roads being developed why is there not a bylaw in place to ensure developers are tasked with providing a dry hydrant water source.

We are all aware of climate change, and how wildfires rage out of control in rural areas if there are no rural water sources available. This idea was brought forward in Richmond County over 20 years ago at a planning advisory committee group. It is disheartening that it was never investigated and implemented.

Submitted on behalf of the membership of the West Bay Road and District Volunteer Fire Department.

Paul Shears

Chief West Bay Road and District Volunteer Fire Department

VP Strait Area Mutual Aid Association