Claremont’s fire hydrants can’t supply today’s fire trucks

Published 11:37 am Wednesday, August 2, 2017

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

CLAREMONT—Fire trucks utilized by the Claremont Volunteer Fire Department are too powerful for the town’s fire hydrants.

The town of Claremont’s fire hydrants operate using the town’s drinking water system, the water pressure of which can’t keep up with the more powerful pumps used by the fire trucks, according to Mayor George Edwards.

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“All of the hydrants are considered active, but restricted use only,” said Edwards.

Claremont Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Reeson said the town’s aging fire hydrants have been an issue for years, but with the fire department’s supply of tanker trucks and the presence of dry hydrants around the town, it doesn’t need to rely on the hydrant system for putting out fires. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

“We can handle probably 90 percent of the fires with what we have in the truck,” Reeson said. “If it’s a really big [fire], then we pump out of a dry hydrant, then we haul to the fire scene.”

The department’s four water-carrying tankers can hold a combined 8,000 gallons, according to Reeson.

The oldest tanker in the department’s stock is from 1983 and the newest is a 2014 peterbilt pumper truck that pumps 1,250 gallons per minute, according to Reeson. The county owns three of the volunteer fire department’s tanker trucks, according to Reeson.

The town has around 50 fire hydrants, according to Edwards.

This past year the town installed a dry hydrant to draw water from the James River in the town’s riverfront community, which previously had no active fire hydrants, Edwards said.

Claremont is in the midst of obtaining a low interest loan from the Virginia Department of Health to address issues it has had with its water system. The VDH loan would be up to $1.8 million, according to Edwards.

The town is also working with Bowman Engineering of Williamsburg, and has been given three different scenarios to consider for its water system, Edwards said.

The scenarios include upgrading the town’s main lines and service lines for its water customers, installing a water tower in the town and replacing all of the town’s meters and meter sets.

“We are at this time reviewing the material of three different suggested projects by Bowman, and will probably meet in next 30 or 60 days to discuss what Council feels needs to be done,” Edwards said.

“Hopefully within the next year we will be breaking ground for revitalization of our water system.”  {/mprestriction}