KFD: Public fire hydrants more reliable

7:59 PM, Nov 27, 2012   |    comments
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The Knoxville Fire Department said they are looking into if fire hydrants near a condominium building did not have proper water pressure after a fire broke out Monday night.

"It's rare because (private hydrants) must be installed properly and maintained," said senior KFD inspector Michael Gillespie. "Anything can happen, but most of the time, it's very rare for us to find pressure so low."

He said Knoxville does not have a database on how many private hydrants there are in city limits, but said it is in the "thousands."

KFD had to use their own water from their tanker trucks to battle the four-unit fire Monday night. They said normally they try to use water from public fire hydrants when battling any fire.

Painted in yellow, public hydrants are owned by either the Knoxville Utilities Board or the Lenoir City Utilities Board.

"Those have 6-inch mains to 8-inch (lines), and if you noticed, they're building larger mains, so we know they're larger," Gillespie added.

Private hydrants are painted in red, and normally do not have the same water volume nor pressure.

Gillespie said it is up to individual homeowner's associations to maintain the any private hydrants, testing them every five years. KFD follows protocol similar to the National Fire Protection Association.

He added it is up to the HOA or condominium owners to make sure the hydrants work. If not, the city steps in for an inspection.

"Now that we received low water pressure last night, we have sent someone out today... to make sure it's maintained," he said.

He said it is rare to test these private hydrants, citing he only performed a few hundred inspections in the last decade.

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