It’s something that many take for granted.
They are everywhere, on every street, around every corner.
But does anyone realize what it takes to make sure those hydrants are optimized at all times to ensure that the fire department can use it when there is an emergency?
It’s simple, really. Regular maintenance. Like a vehicle, this simple piece of metal needs to be tested, flowed and fixed on a regular basis.
That process costs about $35 per hydrant and must be tested by someone who has been trained and licensed with the State Fire Marshall. For about 1,400 hydrants in the city, that can become quite a challenge for time and money. The exact number of public hydrants versus private hydrants is uncertain.
For private hydrants, which are red in color, the responsibility lies with the owner, which is either an HOA or a private entity.
The public ones, which are yellow, are another story.
At one point the City of Mesquite took on the responsibility. That ended a few years ago when then Fire Chief John Higley cut the ropes and said the fire department could no longer take on that responsibility due to a shortage of manpower. Current Fire Chief Kash Christopher has been chiming the same tune. Since Higley’s move, it has been an ongoing issue between the city and the Virgin Valley Water District, the other entity that does not see the hydrants as their responsibility.
Looking through the paper trails, there is nothing that technically gives the responsibility to the city or to the water district.
At the June 7, 2016, water district meeting, district manager Kevin Brown advised the board that his staff was working with the city to transfer the responsibility of testing the hydrants to the city. At this time, no formal agreement has been accepted or refused.
“We are still waiting for a response from the city,” Brown said. City Manager Andy Barton said he is waiting on a final decision by the water district. One way or another, there should be answers by the end of May.
To help ease the burden of the costs, the water district has tentatively offered to cover $10,000 for fiscal year 2017-18 (pending May’s final budget meetings), $5,000 for 2018-19. As of 2019-20, the City of Mesquite would be solely responsible for the testing of the hydrants. However, Brown confirmed if the hydrants need to be repaired or replaced, then that would be the responsibility of the water district when notified by the city.
If the water district doesn’t pass the approval in its budget, the entire issue may proceed to litigation, which would be more costly for both sides. Legal fees are one thing both the city and the water district have managed to reduce in recent years.