Manchester fire hydrants vandalised

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Custos of Manchester Garfield Green and the parish’s firefighters are appealing to people to desist from vandalising fire hydrants.

They say their call is especially relevant since firefighters continue to reel from a significant increase in fire calls.

Fire brigade statistics show that for the first four months of the year, the Manchester fire brigade responded to 303 fires in comparison to 73 for the corresponding period last year.

The custos and justices of the peace (JPs) on Tuesday pledged their support in assisting the fire brigade during the launch of a project dedicated to the repair and maintenance of fire hydrants. The function was held at the Mandeville fire station.

“The Office of the Custos has met with the Manchester fire brigade and we have both come to an agreement to encourage the citizens of the parish to take care of the fire hydrants, not to damage them, store or throw garbage around them, and to also help to maintain them — to keep them in good working order,” said Green.

He pointed out that firefighters have found that, in some cases, hydrants are malfunctioning or access to the hydrants is restricted.

“Persons would have dumped garbage on top of the valve and that would have created some amount of delay,” said Green.

Acting deputy superintendent for the parish’s fire department, Emrick Needham disclosed that firefighters are having difficulties due to vandalism.

“Many times, our firefighters go to hydrants and we observe that they are destroyed, not because of the elements or because of being there over time, but they are vandalised. They are stuffed with a lot of garbage, stones, all kinds of things when we go there.

“We have to make the public aware as to the importance of having a hydrant within your locality and the importance it plays to your own safety… Persons are building and they are dumping the aggregates on the valve box, so if the [firefighters] go there, they cannot access water because the box is covered. We have to dig our way to it and in an emergency two minutes is a very long time,” he stressed

“Many a time, we hear it on the news, how long the fire brigade takes to get to a fire. When you have a fire and you call the brigade, a minute is a long time because you are waiting. The fire is not waiting, so we are advising persons not to block the hydrants or to cover the valve box with debris,” he said.

Based on a survey done last August, there are 880 fire hydrants in Manchester. Needham was unable to say how many are functional.

The project to repair and maintain fire hydrants will start in Mandeville, before extending to other parts of the parish. Twelve hydrants have been identified by the fire department as top priority.

The initiative is geared at properly repainting hydrants, so as to make them more identifiable.

“We want to paint them, clean out around them, put some concrete there eventually, so grass or shrubs don’t grow up around the hydrants. We were hoping to start on Labour Day, but we were waiting to hear the Government’s position on Labour Day projects, so we have launched it today and the project will be done over time… We will make sure that for every hydrant in the parish of Manchester, they are functional,” said Green.

Needham also appealed to residents to desist from lighting fires that may get out of control. Many people use fire to clear land for farming and to burn garbage.

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