Who Should Pay To Thaw Frozen Fire Hydrants In Fort Wayne?

By John W. Davis

January 25, 2011 Updated Jan 25, 2011 at 10:49 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - "To properly allocate government costs, and to provide a true picture of where the costs are born, the fire hydrant rental properly belongs in the city utilities budget," said Fort Wayne City Council President Republican Mitch Harper.

A debate is stirring on how to pay for fire hydrant maintenance in Fort Wayne.

Council President Republican Mitch Harper and Democratic Mayor Tom Henry's administration are not seeing eye to eye on the issue.

The debate is over $2.9 million dollars.

Last October, then just a regular council member, Councilman Harper proposed and was able to get enough support to pass, a $2.9 million dollar cut, slashing the Fire Hydrant Rental line item, from the Fort Wayne 2011 general fund budget.

That budget is primarily funded by property taxes.

The Fire Hydrant Rental is essentially a fire protection fee, to maintain fire hydrants in most of Fort Wayne.

However, city leaders are calling for that money to be placed back into the 2011 budget.

A public hearing on the matter, will be held on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. at the Fort Wayne City Council meeting.

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This past weekend, fire crews had to deal with two frozen fire hydrants at a garage fire in Fort Wayne.

No one was hurt.

Firefighters had enough water on their trucks to put out the flames.

"They usually dispatch three tankers, which can hold anywhere up to about 3,000 gallons of water in them," said Fort Wayne City Utilities Deputy Director John Clark.

"If they need more, they can dispatch more tankers so they have enough to handle a normal house fire. The hydrants then they can tap in, it helps them. If they have any trouble they can be fighting it while we get the hydrants going," said Clark.

City Utilities has four full-time crews maintaining 9,125 fire hydrants in Fort Wayne.

Deputy Director Clark said in our climate, it is likely that some hydrants will freeze during the winter.

Clark explained that Fort Wayne firefighters are also checking hydrants on a daily basis.

Clark said so far, crews have found and thawed 41 frozen hydrants this winter.




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