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May 15, 2013 11:24 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Hydrant shortage puts Flowing Wells neighborhoods at risk

TUCSON - The threat of fire looms large in Flowing Wells on the Northwest side. All due to a lack of fire hydrants and a lack of funds.

The Northwest Fire District has installed 50 plus hydrants in the past five years but needs many more.

They don't come cheap, running 4-thousand dollars a pop.

The agency is now applying for grant money to continue the push.

Firefighters took News 4 on a ride along, pinpointing neighborhood streets with newly installed hydrants, and others without a single one.

Adam Goldberg is a Captain with Northwest Fire, "As a paramedic you want your equipment to be able to help somebody. The best tool that a firefighter has to put a fire out, is water."

He says the basic standard for placing hydrants in residential areas is every 300 feet. Within older communities, that's rarely met.

"We have a lot of communities especially in the Flowing Wells area, that when they were put in, didn't have codes and requirements," says Goldberg.

That was the case in February, fire and wind gutted a mobile home near Wetmore and Flowing Wells.

Without a nearby hydrant crews relied on their water trucks, and pumped water from the backside of the fire.

"We have ways to overcome it, but it may not be as fast and as readily available as we'd like," says Goldberg.

The water company has since installed a hydrant.

Further North near Diamond and Curtis entire streets are without.

No hydrants in the area, how does that sit with you?

"It makes you a little nervous sometimes," says homeowner Wes Slagle, "There has been a house just back here that burned down because of it. Not too long ago right off of Ruthrauff matter of fact."

Neighbor Benny Jackson says, "So if we get a fire on this street, I guess we're screwed uh?"

Goldberg recognizes the shortfalls. One day soon he hopes all neighborhood are outfitted with new hydrants.

Two year ago, an area near Orange Grove and La Cholla was, thanks to grant money the department applied for.

"They're on every street corner, so here's the crash poles and here's a new hydrant," says Goldberg while giving the news crew a tour of the area. "There will be another one, half way down on this street on the left."

How does the fire department decide which areas receive the new hydrants?

Goldberg says it's based on call volume.

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