May 9, 2002

Firemen Discuss Water Hydrants At Memphis City Council Meeting

Age has taken its toll on the city's water hydrant system but the overall picture is positive according to the Memphis City Water Department. Memphis Fire Chief Mark Drummond and assistant chief Tom Matlock discussed the issue with city officials at the Memphis City Council meeting May 2.

Water Superintendent Dennis Howard informed the firemen that his department is working on a proposal to replace hydrants that do not work, or which have low water pressure, over a five year period.

However he stressed that only six or seven of the more than 150 hydrants in the city limits are not functioning to complete capacity.

Under the current system all non-functional hydrants are painted yellow, with working units painted red. Howard said many of the yellow hydrants are not totally out of service, but instead suffer from low water pressure.

The fire department questioned when the inoperable units would be repaired. Howard stated he would give the department an exact timeline once the five-year plan is completed by the city engineer and approved by the Department of Natural Resources.

Howard stressed that the plan would give priority to fixing hydrants to insure all areas of town had adequate water coverage in case of a fire. The engineer's proposal also will include replacing older supply lines in the city and other projects as funds are available.

"We have an excellent water distribution center in Memphis," Howard said. "These handful of hydrants just represent a small percentage of the overall coverage for the city and in no way mean that anyone would not have water in case of a fire."

Drummond indicated the fire department would like to meet with representatives of the water department to learn more about the hydrant system as well as the size of supply lines to each unit.

Howard said he would supply the fire department with a map of the hydrant system indicating serviceable and inoperable units.

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