Water shortage could make firefighting tough in Hanover

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - This hot and dry weather is causing problems for one counties' fire stations.  Hanover firefighters often rely on water from ponds and streams to battle flames in remote areas, but right now those natural water sources have low levels.

The evidence of this issue is not hard to find.  Right now, the water level in the area is two feet too low.

Willie Jones, Battalion Chief with Hanover Fire says, "if we were trying to suck water out of here, we would get nothing but air."

This strainer keeps things like lillypads and fungus out of hoses when firefighters need water.  Problem is, it's usually submerged.  Hanover firefighters rely on 50 dry hydrants throughout the county, and right now, six of those are unusable.  A dry hydrant is a PVC pipe that allows firefighters to draw from natural water sources.

Jones says, "we don't have hydrants in the ground in the rural parts of our county, so we depend on ponds and things like that.  Some of our ponds are actually drying up and not usable, so we have to go to our plan B, which is our tanker system."

But, tanker trucks are not only more expensive to maintain, but they also require special driving skills and are difficult to navigate down country roads.  Bottom Olin, these low levels are one more thing firefighters have to worry about in a scenario where every second counts.

Jones says, "this fire companies have to remember, okay this is not a water supply we have to go the next closest, or maybe we have to call for another tanker."

Just last week, crews battled a fire nearby in Blackcreek.  The blaze caused significant damage even when there was no water source issue.  This week, with water supply trouble, it could have been a total loss.

Jones says, "fire doubles every minute, so if we have to go an extra 10 miles for a water source, it definitely can affect the outcome."

That's why fire officials are asking people to be extra careful in this time of heightened fire danger. They fear things will get worse before they get better.

Jones says, "a shower doesn't help us, it's got to be a continual rain."

Hanover county fire crews will be out checking water sources like this weekly to keep tabs on this situation.

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