Fire hydrant modifications are eyesore
The Board of Water Supply recently modified the fire hydrant fronting 217 Prospect St. The added pipe, locks, heavy chains, plywood support and meter were installed by the Board of Water Supply to accommodate a construction company. Not only is this a major eyesore, but this daily filling of a water truck in a quiet residential area creates a daily traffic hazard by blocking Prospect Street. The hose from the hydrant also blocks the sidewalk and jeopardizes pedestrian safety. Attempts to talk to the Board of Water Supply about removing this unsightly modification and relocating to a nearby hydrant have been refused. Can you help?
Answer: The temporary hookup was moved to another hydrant -- at Madeira Street and Kamamalu Avenue -- on Thursday, after the Board of Water Supply determined it was a matter of public safety.
Whether it was an eyesore was not a factor in deciding what fire hydrants can be used for such hookups, said agency spokeswoman Su Shin.
The hookup involves a meter the Water Board uses to keep track of the water drawn, so that the construction company can be billed.
As explained in a previous column ("Kokua Line," Nov. 14, 2007), the agency does allow entities other than the Fire Department, typically construction companies, to draw water from a hydrant.
The permit includes a $125 installation and removal fee.
In this case the contractor was responsible for the removal and re-hooking costs "because it was a public safety issue," Shin said. Inspectors did verify that the sidewalk and street were being blocked.
Shin also explained that there are two types of fire hydrants: dry barrel and wet barrel.
Dry barrel hydrants, over time, will tend to leak, so construction hookups are only allowed to wet barrel hydrants, she said. That's why the hydrant about a block away on Prospect Street was not used.
Also, Shin said, the construction company needs to be able to access water close to the work site, so there has to be a "reasonable" accommodation.
Q: I recently saw a car ticketed by a police officer for being parked in a tow-away zone on Ward Avenue. A tow truck showed up and was hooking the car up when the owner arrived. He tried to talk to the tow truck operator, who quickly finished hooking the car up, then drove away. Wasn't there a change in the law that said if you got there before a tow truck moved your car, you could have it unhooked and you couldn't be charged? I watched this poor man knocking on the window of the tow truck as it drove away.
A: The owner of the car should file a complaint with the state Office of Consumer Protection (call 587-3222), said Executive Director Stephen Levins.
The law was changed July 1 so that tow companies have to unhook a vehicle if the owner shows up before it has been moved. The owner also can no longer be charged an unhooking fee (see "Kokua Line," Nov. 15, 2007).
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