Cass hydrants under pressure

Published 7:39 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It’s not that fire hydrants draped in black plastic around Sam Adams Elementary School don’t work, but they are too “low flow” for modern pumper trucks, which need output of at least 500 gallons a minute.
Chief Jeff Locke’s volunteer fire department “let me know they had an issue,” which the village, working with the Wightman and Jones engineering firm, will try to remedy next week during spring break, Ronald Bass of the Department of Public Works said Tuesday.
Modernizing a water system pieced together over 80 to 100 years could cost $300,000 to $400,000 at an average of $80,000 to $100,000 per block, said Bass, who has been with the village for 21 years.
While hydrants firefighters tagged on East and Depot streets as inoperable are conspicuous, Bass said there are others less visible nearby, including one behind Sam Adams on school property and another 54 feet away on State Street.
After a February fire just outside town, firefighters inventoried the 162 hydrants and black bagged 20 they couldn’t open or lacked enough pressure to fight a blaze.
Bass confirmed the village sent the fire department a letter stating only DPW or the police department should remove a hydrant from service because if the force stops abruptly water can “hammer,” seeking out the weakest spot and causing breaks.
Bass said Cassopolis still has pockets of two-inch and four-inch line, which used to be standard, but now six-inch, if not an eight-inch main, is preferable. The hydrant at Depot and State on the east side of the school will be moved around the corner as part of the upgrade.