BY ANDREW SMITH
LISTOWEL - Chief Ed Smith isn’t happy about a hose being ruined by a careless driver, but his real concern is that the loss could have been much more serious.
North Perth’s fire chief is asking drivers to use a little common sense in regard to a growing problem of vehicles running over hoses while firefighters are at a scene. Most recently a hose was destroyed by a driver during a house fire on Inkerman Street on April 11, but Smith said he’s seen it happen several times.
“I question what is going through a driver’s mind thinking they can drive over a four-inch supply line,” he said. “Our lines are there for a reason and they’re not designed to be driven on.”
Smith said the loss amounts to over $600 for a new fire hose, which he said affects the department’s strict budget for equipment, especially when the hose was relatively new.
“We do run on a very tight budget, and all of these things hurt us,” he said. “It means something else in the budget has to accommodate for that replacement.”
However, the real reason behind Smith’s worry is what may happen when a hose is ruptured by a vehicle and a firefighter is caught inside a burning building.
“$600 is cheap compared to one of my crew getting caught in a flashover because they run out of water,” he said. “Our firefighters are depending on that water for their life safety.”
Smith said the nature of Listowel’s hydrants make it a common occurrence to run hose across street intersections, and they aren’t always able to immediately barricade the street, or have the police block traffic. Smith said the police can be brought into investigate the matter and possibly lay charges.
“Once we lay a line across it, it is a legally closed road,” Smith said. “If we can identify a vehicle by the licence plate, we can notify the police.”
Smith adds it’s not too much to ask of drivers that they take a slight detour to avoid driving through a fire scene.
“It’s a major concern because I don’t think any citizen wants to compromise the safety of our firefighters,” he said.