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Tarpon Springs to overhaul fire hydrants

TARPON SPRINGS — The city's more than 1,200 fire hydrants will soon get a thorough going over to make sure they're all up snuff and will be ready when they're needed.

The City Commission recently approved a contract for a maximum of $400,000 with an Indiana-based company to install, repair and maintain the city's hydrants and valves.

The city says it has 1,265 hydrants that require specialized inspection, service and repairs in accordance with American Water Works Association standards in order to be in proper working order.

The contract includes "a very detailed analysis and testing of each of the hydrants,'' Public Services Director Paul Smith said.

According to an estimate, approximately 40 percent of the city's hydrants would need a new upper barrel and 30 percent a new lower barrel.

Smith noted the contract will allow staff to devise a new maintenance plan for the hydrants, a time-consuming task that was previously handled by the fire and water services departments. That arrangement has been deemed untenable due to staffing issues.

Contracting out the service to get the city's hydrants back to where they need to be would be beneficial to everyone, Smith said.

City Manager Mark LeCouris and several commissioners agreed with Smith's recommendation.

"This is all about safety," LeCouris said. "From a safety aspect we need to do a sweep one time, and if there's any problems, we'll find them. Because we don't want to find them if there's a fire. That's not the time to find out we have an issue."

"This is obviously a very important situation," said Commissioner Jacob Karr. "If my house was burning down, and the fire hydrant didn't work, I would be very upset about it."