Fire Hydrants in Missouri Town Remain Under Lock and Key

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COWGILL, Mo. -- The fire hydrants in Cowgill, Missouri, about an hour north of Kansas City, remain on lockdown. Volunteer firefighters in Cowgill say the lockdown could be putting the public at risk. The President of the Water Board says it all comes down to trust and money.

At Wednesday's monthly water meeting, both sides of this fight came peacefully face to face. The Board of the Public Water Supply of Caldwell County capped and locked all fire hydrants within city limits.  The President of the Board says it took that drastic action because the city's Volunteer Fire Department hadn't been paying for use of the water and because hydrants had sometimes been opened for non-emergency uses, like cleaning streets.

"We have to provide them water by Missouri state statute, but it doesn't have to be free and that's the thing we're working on," said David Truskett, President of the Board.

Firefighters from both Cowgill and surrounding towns, along with members of the City Council showed up to peacefully protest the lockdown.

"Who would be liable if there were a fire and someone lost their lives because you know, there wasnt uh, emergency taken care of?"  asked Mary Williams, the Mayor of Cowgill.

The Board says they will come unlock the hydrant closest to the fire in the case of an emergency.

"How long it takes for these guys to get here and unlock the hydrant?," said the Fire Chief from the neighboring town of Braymer.  "I think we can get here as quick as the volunteer fire fighters. Some of them live way past where me and the superintendent live," said Truskett.

The firefighters say they will cut the locks if necessary, but still worry that precious minutes will be lost

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