With eyes focused squarely on the city’s check book, members of the island’s Utilities Advisory Board (UAB) heard a preliminary update on plans to install additional fire hydrants in residential areas during the committee’s regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday.
A memo in August noted that the distance between residential homes and fire hydrants is an on-going safety concern. Many properties are not within 500 feet of a hydrant, while others are in excess of 1,000 feet.
Because hydrant installation is not budgeted for the 2011 fiscal year, public works director Tim Pinter has been exploring whether installation by the public works department would be more cost-effective. Pinter compared the cost of one city-installed hydrant, with three similar installations done by outside contractors. According to Pinter’s preliminary estimates, which he presented to UAB members Feb. 2, the city could save between $2,500-$3,000, per hydrant if city workers completed the job.
“We’re at the infancy of this whole program,” cautioned Pinter. “So it’s hard to say exactly how much we’ll save.”
However, Pinter noted that the savings could increase as public works crews become more familiar with the installation process.
It is expected that 52 hydrants will need to be installed throughout the city as part of a multi-year project.
According to Pinter, plans to install new hydrants in Golden Rod, The Estates, and Copperfield as part of the city’s septic tank replacement program should continue to be completed by outside contractors. The island would see the most cost savings by having city works complete hydrant installation in older sections of town.
Pinter’s next step is to determine how to allocate funds to pay for the project, adding that he plans to make sure the program is included in the city’s 2012 budget.