Nov 05, 2013 Joe Genco Uncategorized
The village of Skaneateles is taking steps toward correcting a serious public safety issue: poor fire flow to hydrants.
Poor fire flow, or water pressure, to fire hydrants on the east side of the village has been a persistent problem that has been especially concerning to local firefighters.
In addition to recently making changes in how its water system operates, the village also plans to move forward with a capital project to replace water mains next year.
On Oct. 22, Skaneateles Fire Department president Jim Buff sent an email to village and town officials giving the results of testing that the fire department conducted on hydrants on Oct. 21. In the email, Buff reported that more hydrants are demonstrating flow problems than previously thought and that the model developed for the village by engineering firm GHD Associates may be flawed.
During these issues, Skaneateles Fire Department Chief Eric Sell has arranged for tanker trucks that carry their own water from neighboring departments to assist them if a fire were to occur near one of the unusable hydrants.
“A lot of work needs to be done and ASAP as the chief will have to revise his tanker operation knowing the results of the test,” Buff wrote.
Following Buff’s email, the village board planned a meeting with representatives of the fire department to discuss the issue of poor fire flow in the village.
The meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 in the village office is meant to be a “roundtable discussion” meant to bring the fire department to speed with what is happening and hear any concerns they may have, Director of Municipal Operations Bob Lotkowictz said.
The problem has also garnered the attention of the Onondaga County Health Department who sent the village a letter dated March 8 of this year.
Following the initial letter from the health department, the village municipal board met on April 24 to discuss a $1.93 million capital project that they recommended the village board move forward with “as soon as possible.”
The project was formulated by GHD after the village had paid them $50,000 to study the village water system and develop strategies to improve fire flow. It involves replacing a number of water mains with new pipes that will be wider in diameter.
Lotkowictz recently wrote a letter, dated Oct. 8, to the health department updating them on the village’s intended course of action, which includes multiple planned strategies of action.
In the letter he states that the village has already opened an emergency bypass water valve in the water plant and reconfigured several valves at the village’s storage tank site to improve the available storage for firefighting by 175,000 gallons. The village was able to get special permission to open the bypass valve in August in part due to the effectiveness of its ultraviolet disinfection system installed last year.
He also laid out a timeline that the village plans to follow in taking on the recommended capital project, which will be split into two phases. The first phase will go out to bid in November and construction will begin the spring of 2014, the second phase will take place in either 2014 or 2015, Lotkowictz said in the letter.
The village board most recently discussed the project at a work session last spring in which it decided to postpone a capital improvement project for West Lake Street to take on projects that it deemed to be of higher priority including the water system improvements.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.