Fire Sparks Hydrant Review

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Neighbors at Winslow's Mobile Home Park want a hydrant in their community, especially after a fire claimed the life of one of their residents.

"It was scary. You know it could have been us rather than them, it could have been anybody," said Rosemary Gillett, a neighbor who lives right next to the location of the fire.

The siding on her house melted in the fire.

"It was tragic that she had to pass on that way and i think it's important that they do put one in here," said Gillett.

She's said if there was a hydrant, firefighters could have extinguished the fire sooner.

Two years ago Meridian Township struck down the idea of extending a water pipeline on Grand River Avenue and adding a hydrant. Back then a gas station said it would pay for the line extension because it needed the water to expand the business.

"Our fire chief had given us an opinion that it would be nice to have a fire hydrant over there, to service this portion of the township," said Julie Brixie, the Meridian Township Treasurer describing why she supported the idea two years ago.

Even with the chief's request, the extension needed five votes and only got three. Without that water line extension the nearest fire hydrant to the mobile home fire was more than 1,100 feet away.

"[The fire] obviously raised our awareness of the seriousness of the situation and we took action fairly quickly," said Brett Dreyfus, the Meridian Township Clerk.

The extension and hydrant now have unanimous support among board members, and neighbors of all ages want a hydrant.

"It would be safer if there was no fire and that would keep you safe from the fire," said Clay Stanton, a seven-year-old boy who lives in the neighborhood of the fire.

Gillett couldn't agree more.

"I think it's important that [the township] do put [a hydrant] out here for the safety of everybody."

The Meridian Township board will have the water line extension and hydrant on their agenda as an action item in their next meeting April 16.

It's estimated that adding the line and hydrant will cost just over 100,000 dollars.

Having access to fire hydrants can be a problem in other communities, especially in rural areas or municipalities that have both urban and rural areas. Each fire department is set up to handle the area it covers.

In Lansing there are fire hydrants found every 400-600 feet. That is also the case in Jackson. However, in rural areas, where hydrants are not available, fire departments use tanker trucks and have to bring water with them to fight fires. In rural areas the cost to install hydrants can out-weigh their effectiveness. For example Jackson had 135 fires in 2012, but some townships that don't have hydrants might only have a handful each year.

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