Local News

Dry hydrants expand fire protection in rural areas

Photo by Steve Finer

A new dry hydrant was recently installed in Robinwood across from Pico off Route 7.

By Stephen Seitz

KILLINGTON–A new dry hydrant has been installed in the Robinwood development, which is off Route 4 west near the Pico entrance.

“Technically, it’s in Mendon,” said Steve Finer of Killington Fire and Rescue. “We’re part of a mutual aid agreement with Rutland, and it’s easier to coordinate. The Rutland City department knows all about it, and they’ll help to maintain it.”

When most people think of a fire hydrant they think of the ones that are part of a city’s water system. When the hydrant is opened, water flows out at generally about 125 pounds of pressure. Dry hydrants aren’t pressurized to that extent. They are usually permanent installations in a lake, stream or pond. When needed, the fire department attaches a suction hose to the dry hydrant and uses the water source to either battle the fire directly, or to fill a tanker truck if the fire is too far away.

“The fire department sucks the water out of it,” Finer said. “This one is below the source of the water. It’s in a pond fed by a spring, and it looks a lot like a regular fire hydrant.”

Killington already has 16 dry hydrants, Finer said, located in places like River Pond, Kent Pond, and at water sources in the forest.

Proponents say dry hydrants provide access to water regardless of the weather and can work for years with minimal maintenance.

Finer said different towns and cities have different needs for their hydrants. “The size of the structures dictates how much water is needed,” he said. “In a city, the hydrants are generally 200 to 400 feet apart. In an ideal world, Killington would have one every 400 feet. The Sunrise [condominium] has a pressurized hydrant. . . . We’re better than some towns, but not as well off as others. . . . We’re not in the worst shape. When I started 30 years ago, we didn’t have any of this. Now the Grand Hotel has pressurized hydrants, too.”

The new hydrant in Robinwood costs about $14,000, and Finer said the department would be seeking grant money to cover the cost.

The Vermont Rural Fire Protection Program has a dry hydrant program. According to its website, “Since 1998, the State of Vermont and U.S. Forest Service have approved appropriations to assist communities with the installation of dry hydrants to improve fire protection in the rural areas of Vermont. The Vermont Rural Fire Protection Task Force with the assistance of the Northern Vermont Resource Conservation and Development councils administer the grant program.”

More specific recommendations include: “All field work must be completed as soon as possible, this includes the permitting process for your hydrant. It is the town and/or fire department’s responsibility to acquire all the necessary permits (State and/or Corp of Engineers permits for wetlands, lakes, ponds and stream alteration.)

“A 25 percent local match of the total project cost is required,” the site adds. “Match can be met through pre-owned material as well as in-kind services such as volunteer time and equipment usage. Project completion will involve submitting a Match Documentation Form, invoices/receipts, news article, construction photos and Maintenance Log.”

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