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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Town to improve fire flow to local elementary school

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Town of Rocky Mount Water Department is working to increase fire flow at two hydrants near an elementary school in town.

During routine hydrant testing this week, water department staff determined that the water flow at two hydrants near Lee Waid Elementary School does not currently meet the town's standards, according to Assistant Town Manager Matt Hankins.

"We routinely test hydrants year-round to ensure that our residents have the fire flows and pressures needed for fire safety and normal use of domestic water," said Water Plant Superintendent Bob Dietrich. "In this case, we've determined that two hydrants do not meet our performance expectations, and we're going to work quickly to improve fire flow to protect the students, staff and property at the school."

"This is a rare occurrence, and one we and our public works department are prepared to deal with quickly," he added.

The water department staff has temporarily "bagged" two hydrants, covering them with plastic. The covers do not prevent firefighters from using the hydrants for water supply, but alerts them to use other nearby hydrants in the event they need more water.

These hydrants are on a 6-inch water line, but firefighters can easily access a nearby 10-inch water line to boost water supply and pressure in the event of a fire at the Lee Waid facility or nearby residences. All of Rocky Mount's front-line fire trucks are equipped with enough hose to reach the 10-inch line, and all trucks have pumps capable of providing adequate pressure and flow from hydrants on that line to the school, Hankins said.

The town will work with its engineer to design a tie-in with a larger line to boost pressure and flow. The fix is expected to take up to a month to finish.

"This is not an urgent public safety threat, nor is it indicative of any significant problem within our water system," said Hankins. "This is an example of our employees looking critically at our system, finding a problem and working quickly to fix it in the interest of public safety."

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