Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, a home on Tupelo Street burned. It was fully involved when the Holley Navarre Fire District and other agencies arrived – and what they discovered was not unusual for them. There was no fire hydrant on the street. Instead of hooking up to a hydrant to fight the fire, they had to rely on tanker trucks to provide the water.
It made us wonder how many other homes are at risk because of a lack of hydrants. We asked HNFD’s fire chief, Ron Norton about the issue and he said it is not uncommon for them to fight a fire without a hydrant. “Navarre has plenty of streets that don’t have hydrants,” Norton said.
We looked at a street map of Navarre hanging in the station’s bay that indicates where the hydrants are located. Tupelo Street isn’t an anomaly. We thought it pertinent to ask Holley Navarre Water System why there aren’t hydrants in those areas.
In an emailed response to Navarre Press, HNWS general manager Paul Gardner explained it this way:
“The line sizes do not support fire hydrant flows as set by FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection). We are not allowed to install hydrants on lines less than 6 inches in diameter. (The) second addition is a subdivision installed before 1986 when there were no requirements for fire protection to be installed.
The parts of second addition that have fire protection have been installed after 1986 with the exception of some existing 6 inch lines that have had hydrants installed on them after 1986 . Contractors who develop new sub divisions are responsible for installing the fire protection.
HNWS has plans to install hydrants in the future, however these plans are part of upgrades to water lines, and will be installed as the capital improvement budgets will allowed.
I sincerely wish we could make this happen overnight , but again this was lack of planning in the past that we will eventually correct.”
We understand budgetary restraints but this is not a new problem. Many of the homes without a hydrant nearby were built after 1986. Here is a partial list of areas of concern:
- Tupelo/Sand Pine
- East River Drive, Eagle Nest Drive, Sunset Drive, Quail Roost and Timber Lane
- The area behind Publix specifically Vizcaya, Las Vegas Trail, Escola Street (where Holley Navarre Primary is located), Casa de Oro, Salamanca Street, Andorra Street, Avenida de Sol, Frontera Street and all the streets between.
- Palo Alto Street, Chapparel Street, Paloma Street, Bandera Drive
While HNWS isn’t in the fire protection business, they are certainly in the business of providing the water available to us for all uses. No one will argue the fact that it is nearly impossible to fight a fire without water or a suppressant. They do provide the water to fight the fires. If they withheld water that would be bad. In this case, they aren’t withholding it – they just aren’t providing it. Just as bad in our opinion.
There are very few life and death matters that come before the HNWS board – in fact, we don’t remember any thus far – but this is certainly one of them. Can you in good conscious wipe your hands of this? Can you honestly hope for “someday” to be able to put in the fire hydrants – or “eventually?” Eventually our houses will burn down and someday someone might die inside a burning house without a hydrant. We are a reasonable population with reasonable expectations. We don’t expect an overnight fix – but we do expect you to try. We expect you to put the people’s safety first.
Perhaps you should justify the priorities of your capital improvement plan/budget because while some of those improvements are most assuredly needed ask the question – will this improvement save a life? If the answer is yes, it goes to the top of the list. Fire hydrants save lives and homes – what is more important than the safety of your customers?