Fire Department looks to hydrant maintenance program

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Fire Chief Meredith Lund is looking at the town’s 18 dry hydrants to come up with the best plan to keep them in proper maintenance – which may include reducing their number.

Since she became fire chief, said Lund, the town has tested its hydrants – all of which are dry and connected to natural water sources – to ensure they’re in proper working order. But the town does not have a regular maintenance plan for the hydrants, nor is their upkeep assigned to any particular budget, said Lund.

These hydrants are an important tool for the Fire Department, even if they’re located far from a fire scene, said Lund, because they’re used to refill tankers and may mean the difference between having to call in additional departments and being able to refill New Ipswich’s own tankers efficiently and quickly enough.

Though there’s no official requirement for how many or how far apart a town may keep their hydrants, for insurance rating purposed, the town should have one, or another water access, for every three square miles.

There are some hydrants that the department uses most regularly, said Lund – ones located by Banky Pond, Old Country Road, by Hutter Construction, Tricnit Road and the Main Street Cemetery Pond, that have water sources which are readily accessible and don’t run dry.

Others, she said, are rarely used or are in need of repair, such as one located at the crossroads of Appleton and King roads, where a beaver dam has limited the water source, or one by Walker Mill, which has been damaged by a private plow.

The Fire Department has some options when it comes to maintaining these hydrants, said Lund. One of which is to eliminate rarely used or excess hydrants, and concentrate funding on testing and setting up a regular maintenance schedule for them.

“Right now, there are groupings of areas that have more hydrants than we need, and ones we never use,” said Lund.

The study of the best route to use will likely be a long-term planning endeavor, said Lund.

Lund reminded residents that keeping hydrants clear and accessible is crucial to firefighting. If you have a dry hydrant near your home, check it after each snow event to see if it has been cleared. If it has not been, clear the snow from around the hydrant or contact the fire department with the location of the hydrant.

“It can make all the difference if there’s a fire,” said Lund.