Lack of access to water changes game for rural firefighters

Posted at 7:11 PM, Nov 12, 2013

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WTVR)--In most cities fire stations are usually situated to allow quick response to specific areas.

City firefighters have the ability to hook up to a fire hydrant on just about every block. But in rural counties, like Dinwiddie, six fire stations cover the more than 500 square miles.

Fire hydrants from a municipal source are often limited as counties try to expand a "dry hydrant" system; where a pond can be outfitted to serve as a hydrant source for firefighters. This specialized, and expensive system, can provide easy access to water during emergencies.

Dinwiddie has more than 60 dry hydrants, adding 30 in the last decade.

"Our goal within Dinwiddie County has been to try and get most addresses within 3 miles of either the municipal water system or a dry hydrant," Chief Dennis Hale says.

A fire on Monday, where two people lost their lives, saw the first firefighters on scene about 12 minutes after the initial call, which is the average response time in the county.

"Most of our citizens here, that live out in the rural areas understand that the level of emergency services is not going to be as efficient, because you're not near the municipal water system and you're longer distances from your emergency services stations.," Hale says.

One thing that Dinwiddie and other rural counties need, is for landowners to allow them access to their ponds, so they can build up their dry hydrant system.

On Monday firefighters found the bodies of a World War II veteran and his wife inside their Dinwiddie County home on Veterans Day. Those who knew Maude and Charles Leucht say they were inseparable.

You can read more about their story here.