FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Florence County is working with the Unified Fire District and the city of Florence to create a plan to fix more than 100 broken fire hydrants, county councilman Jason Springs said Thursday.
Howe Springs Fire Rescue Chief Billy Dillon said he has run into broken hydrants before and looks forward to them being fixed. He said his firefighters use an online map to see where hydrants are. Some are miles apart, and the map doesn’t always show when one isn’t working.
“Sometimes we get there and we are expecting the hydrant to be working,” Dillon said. “We just tested it three, four months ago and it was working, but we hook up to it and the hydrant is broken.”
When that happens, it means sending a tanker down the road to the next closest hydrant or drafting water out of a pond.
“So instead of having all our personnel concentrate on fighting the fire, I’ve got about five or six dedicated to getting water to the scene,” Dillon said.
He said that can take extra time and may not always be a great option.
“The bigger the fire, the more water we are going to need every minute,” Dillon said. “We could be sitting there for three to four minutes with dry lines waiting for another truck to get there.”
He said fire hydrants don’t generate any revenue so the repairs haven’t been a high priority, but he is proud of the county for taking the initiative to tackle the issue.
“They’re working with the fire chiefs now on a plan so we can start getting some of these damaged hydrants repaired,” Dillon said.
He said one factor that has made the repairs difficult is that hydrants can be owned by a wide array of organizations, from city governments to businesses. He expects the plan to take that into account.