The Times West Virginian

Local News

April 12, 2014

Officials split on Grant Town hydrant locks

First responders worried that access to water will be delayed during fires

FAIRMONT — Proposed water hydrant locks are creating a stir between fire officials and town leaders in Grant Town.

Town officials have proposed installing the hydrant locks on five hydrants in the Grant Town area, but some first responders are against the use of the equipment.

“We think that putting those locks on the hydrant has the potential to cause a delay in getting the water from the hydrant and getting (the water) to the fire,” Grant Town firefighter Barry Bledsoe said. “This is about saving people’s lives and protecting their property.”

Bledsoe has 30 years of experience as a firefighter. He said he’s worried the locking mechanism could fail.

“The fire department received a letter. They did not ask about them beforehand,” Bledsoe said of the town’s decision to install locks on the hydrants. “We did not know they intended to (install the locks) until they sent a letter.”

Grant Town council member and assistant water commissioner Charlie Rosic said the hydrant locks are necessary for a couple reasons.

“(The town council) selected five hydrants based on water theft,” Rosic said. “It is a federal law under the Homeland Security Act.”

Rosic refered to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7, which he said requires water administrators to protect their water supply.

Rosic said one Baxter hydrant will require more than $15,000 in repairs after it was improperly closed. The locks are supposed to prevent water theft.

Fairview fire chief Steve Gillespie is against the new locked hydrants. He said there is an alternative to preventing water theft.

“(Grant Town) should put out cameras or patrol the area,” Gillespie said. “They said they put them in because people were stealing water.”

The chosen hydrants are on Route 17.

“(We intend) to give Grant Town, Rivesville, Baxter, Barrackville and Fairview three keys apiece for their fire department because they are the first responders for this area,” Rosic said.

According to Rosic, a representative from American Water Works will be coming to an April 21 meeting. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Grant Town community building.

Email Richard Babich at rbabich@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @rbabichTWV.

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