When it comes to fighting fires, you need water, and lots of it. That's why the town of Rocky Mount is testing its fire hydrants. WDBJ7's Bryce Williams tells us how the water department determines if your hydrant will work if it's ever put to the test.
Brenda Campbell has lived in her Rocky Mount home for more than three decades. The thought of a house fire concerns her. “I'd hate to lose my kids' pictures and I'd hate to lose important papers,” she said.
The fire hydrant in front of her home has a plastic bag over it because it has low pressure. Campbell's is one of nine in the area that wouldn't measure up during a fire. An official with the water department showed us a hydrant that pumped out 300 gallons a minute. That’s 200 gallons less per minute than the amount deemed necessary to battle a fire. We were also shown a hydrant that pumped out 1,300 gallons per minute. That hydrant pictured in this story.
Rocky Mount conducts routine inspections every five years. We spoke with Water Plant Supervisor Robert Deitrich. “We bag these hydrants so that the fire department does not show up to fight a fire and presume they're gonna have enough water out of these hydrants,” he said.
Crews use a meter to check the flow rate. Their findings will be used along with information from an engineering firm, to figure out what improvements need to be made to make sure all hydrants are working properly. “Whether we need to look at a problem area in existing lines, run a new water line from a different direction to improve flow and pressure in this area--we're definitely working toward that,” Deitrich continued. The report should be ready in a week or two.