KC deputy fire chief not concerned after crews have minor problems finding working fire hydrant

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It took a couple tries for firefighters to find a working fire hydrant Sunday night after a KC home caught fire, and that has some concerned about how the condition of the city's fire hydrants is affecting public safety.

Outside the home near Linwood Boulevard and Jackson Avenue, you can find fire hydrants every 100-150 feet down the street. Firefighters had to try several Sunday night before they finally got water.

Fire crews said it was no big deal.

"We haven't had a problem with the hydrants, period," KCFD deputy chief James Garrett said.

Garrett said when fire crews pulled up to the fire, firefighters had to try two fire hydrants until they found one that worked. One had a mechanical malfunction; the other had water issues.

"Because it is a mechanical instrument and because mechanical instruments break down from time to time, if one breaks down, we have one right down the street to get it or across the street or something of that sort," the KC fire chief said. "It doesn't slow us up from doing our firefighting at all."

Garrett said faulty hydrants don't slow firefighters down because the pumper trucks show up to a fire with 500 gallons of water on each rig. Firefighters always use that water to begin fighting the fire immediately while others string hose and hook up the the hydrant.

"And what happens then is we have the secondary use of water, which is the fire hydrants, which is catching a plug if you will to make sure we have that secondary source of water to make sure that fire can be extinguished," he said.

The water department declined FOX 4's request for an interview, but in February, FOX 4's Shannon O'Brien talked to Aaron Balliet with the KC Water Department after the city council allotted $3 million for a three-year fire hydrant replacement project.

Balliet said the number of faulty hydrants in the city is not at a crucial number -- but it's getting there.

“There is over 25,000 hydrants in the city, and our goal is to keep it below 1 percent,” Balliet said of the number of broken hydrants. “We are right at that 1 percent

Fire hydrants are inspected once a year by the fire department, which sends those reports to the water department. According to the water department, the hydrants near the fire at Linwood and Jackson had not been inspected since 2013.

The fire hydrant replacement project is scheduled to take three years, but it might be quicker than that. Part of the money allotted is being used to hire an outside contractor to work with city crews to speed up the process.