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Published: Thursday, 7/9/2009

New fire hydrants on tap for area affected by June 9 blaze

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

New fire hydrants soon will sprout in a historic West Toledo neighborhood where inadequate water volume was partially blamed for the loss of a home June 9.

Residents of Westmoreland, a stately neighborhood off Bancroft Street between Parkside Boulevard and Upton Avenue, have been notified that three new hydrants will be installed on 6-inch lines - and old hydrants on the existing 4-inch mains will come out.

The work, which likely would cost about $1,500 per fixture, not including the labor, was the brainchild of West Toledo resident Edward Howard.

Mr. Howard came up with the idea to tap into 6-inch lines that cut across or dead-end on Mount Vernon Avenue. The only alternative the city had discussed previously was to install a new

8-inch line at a cost of $305,000. He reviewed waterline maps of the neighborhood after hearing about the problem from one of his employees who lives in Westmoreland.

Inadequate water volume from a 4-inch line hydrant initially was blamed, in part, for the loss of Barbie and Herman Harrison's home at 1945 Mount Vernon. Firefighters also pointed to what they said was an advanced fire that was hard to reach inside the house attic.

The city's Department of Public Utilities quickly endorsed Mr. Howard's idea.

In an e-mail to other residents of Westmoreland, Colleen Kilbert, president of the Westmoreland Association, said Public Utilities Director Tom Kroma told her Monday that three new hydrants would be installed.

Ms. Kilbert wrote that the new hydrants would be on Mount Vernon at the cul de sac near Parkside Boulevard, at Clarenden Drive, and at Woodruff Avenue.

"These installations should take place within the week," Ms. Kilbert said.

Designated a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, the neighborhood was platted in 1916.

Once the new hydrants are operational, existing hydrants on Mount Vernon between Parkside and Clarenden, at Clarenden, and at Woodruff, would be removed.

The hydrant in front of the former Harrison home will remain in place. The hydrants on Mount Vernon north of Woodruff and the northeast section of Richmond Road are being evaluated.

David Welch, commissioner of field operations in the utilities department, said he got the approval to order the work.

He said it may not be possible to use the same approach with the rest of the 8.75 miles of city street that use hydrants tapped into 4-inch lines because those streets may not have co-existing 6-inch lines.

Fire Chief Mike Wolever welcomed the installation of the higher-volume hydrants. He said taking out the hydrants connected to 4-inch lines eliminates an option for water but assures that firefighters won't accidentally use a 4-inch line hydrant.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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