Henrico, Richmond inspect fire hydrants less than recommended schedule

Posted at 11:46 PM, May 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-07 06:37:00-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va (WTVR) -- An Eastern Henrico home now sits condemned after it was gutted by a two-alarm fire on Friday.

CBS 6 learned one problem crews encountered was a faulty fire hydrant, with the largest cap to release water being stuck.

We took this issue to Melvin Slough, with Henrico’s Department of Public Utilities, to find out how often the hydrants are inspected; every three years he said.

“It takes us that long to get through them all, with the staff,” said Slough.

Henrico has 12,500 fire hydrants to maintain, but still, the National Fire Protection Association recommends hydrants be inspected at least once every year, for vandalism, accidental damage and natural wear and tear.

We checked with other localities in the metro, and found that Chesterfield, with 11,500 hydrants-- one thousand fewer than Henrico--inspects theirs once every year.

We also traveled to Richmond and found that like Henrico they inspect the city's 6,500 hydrants once every three years, if not longer in some cases.

“We have a general schedule that we go by, but if a customer has an inquiry, that goes to the top of the list,” said Angela Fountain with Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities.

Back in Henrico, Slough said hydrants in the vicinity of the charred home will go to the top of their list. He said the recently inspected hydrants look freshly painted, but at the scene of Friday’s fire, we saw plenty of hydrants being overtaken by rust and weeds.

“The fire hydrants, when we do the checks, have been working properly,” said Slough.