PORTLAND - Portland town leaders responded during their monthly council meeting to a letter they received asking for corrective action on some of the installed fire hydrants in water district 7.
Town Supervisor Dan Schrantz told those attending the board meeting that the council received a letter from the Chautauqua County Fire Commissioners, the governing body of Portland's fire protection districts, regarding hydrants near the Cornell Research building and asking for "corrective action to be taken in the event that a fire or catastrophe were hindered and safety was jeopardized."
The issue arose, explained Town Clerk Roxane Sobecki, during a recent fire that claimed a structure at Vetter Vineyards on Prospect Station Road in Westfield.
Low pressure from the hydrant caused a slow fill time for tankers that were used during the extinguishing of the fire. Calling the condition of low pressure "unsafe and hazardous," the letter requested the hydrants be addressed by the town.
Water Department Supervisor Drew Smith responded to Schrantz's reading of the letter stating, "The hydrants were put in according to the blueprints, at ground level."
Schrantz concurred, admitting that the one in question, as well as other hydrants in the district do sit lower and may subsequently cause lower pressure, noting they cannot now be raised to a higher level than the contour of the land they sit on.
"It would require raising up the land around the hydrant itself, and additional funding would be required for that I can't see where that would be cost-effective. We can look at the situation further to see if this is something we can do in-house more cost-effectively. We did state before that we would look at it after the project is closed out but at this point, the project is out of money for any additional add-ons than what is currently being fixed. The hydrants were installed the right way, according to the blueprints, and to put a change order in would cost the residents of that district," Schrantz said.
The supervisor added that during construction, the town was notified by State DOT officials that hydrants could not be raised alone, that the entire contour of the surrounding land would need to be raised with it.
Smith raised a suggestion, which council members have tabled before, to color code the caps of hydrants according to their minimum and maximum water pressures. In this situation, a fire department would be visually aware of what hydrants a tanker could draw water from at a reasonable and safe rate of flow. He also reminded surrounding departments to utilize the forms he drafted for the town to notify him when a big draw such as a tanker fill takes place, so that it can serve as an internal audit system allowing the town to properly bill the right district.
Schrantz reiterated that the district 7 project is officially in long-term financing, and is being closed out with the exception of punch list items on Walker Road, and property modifications at the property of John and Carol Boltz, both of which have been discussed at public meetings and the contractor is aware of.
The town resolved to pay out final pay requests to Sicar Construction, with the stipulation that $5,000 would be withheld for the insurance of the punch list items being completed to satisfaction.
In other matters relating to metering, Smith and council members resolved to order parts from T. Wilson Company to properly close a valve and install a check valve system on the Pecor Street meter in Water District 5. The large meter, not typically designed to rotate backwards, has been doing so, and is creating a unique situation for the water department to have to manually meter and bill.
"With the meter going backwards, water isn't being added or subtracted properly for District 5 to be paying accurately," stated Smith, adding that a check valve in the meter may not have been resealed all the way after water from District 7 was on line.
"You're not losing money, but it's not being credited to the right district. We've had to go by individual meters for the accounts to balance and be charged correctly."
The council will meet next May 9 at 7 p.m.