Petersburg inspects 1,400 fire hydrants after 8News investigation

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — 8News first told you about faulty fire hydrants in Petersburg back in January. Since then, 8News Reporter Parker Slaybaugh has been keeping track of what’s been fixed and what hasn’t. Since that story, Petersburg has taken action.

“As I believe most know, there was a recent rash of fires where we had hydrants that malfunctioned, were not working,” Acting Battalion Chief Dan Macaluso said back in January.

That fact was uncovered by an 8News Investigation back in January of this year when we learned a hydrant right across the street from a fatal house fire that month was not working. In May we returned to the scene of that non-working hydrant only to find — five months later — it was still out of order.

“It caused many people to look into the hydrant maintenance program we have going on, and there were some flaws that were identified with inspections,” Macaluso said.

Those flaws now being fixed, according to Macaluso. He says since our May investigation aired six weeks ago, exposing problems that had not been fixed, the fire department has physically visited every single one of the 1,400 fire hydrants in the city. Friday, we rode along as crews were doing just that, inspecting hydrants.

Friday, we rode along as crews were doing just that — inspecting hydrants.

“You’re going to open this hydrant, you’re going to make sure it fully opens, you want it to fully open in a clean smooth manner without sticking or being too difficult,” Macaluso explained.

A cap sticking or being too difficult to open can cost precious seconds when fighting a fire, and could mean the difference between life and death for someone trapped inside a burning home.

Just in the past month-and-a-half, all 1,400 hydrants in the city have been tested to see if they are working properly, and if they don’t, they are put on a list to be replaced.

But, the changes in the way the hydrants are inspected don’t just stop there. Even though all hydrants in the city have recently been inspected come the fall the department has plans to visit each and every hydrant all over again. The new policy plans for every hydrant to be inspected twice a year.

“Once we test the hydrants, if we find any problems with the hydrants we are reporting those through work orders to public works and from there they are handling the repairs,” Macaluso said.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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