All 769 of Flossmoor's fire hydrants will soon be flow tested, many for the first time since 2004, after trustees voted to spend $35,374 on a contract for the work during the Sept. 17 village board meeting. According to Flossmoor Fire Chief Chris Sewell, the testing has become increasingly imperative over recent years.
“I can tell you that when a fire occurs in southeast Flossmoor, I cringe as our crews open a fire hydrant …,” Sewall said in a memo to the village manager. “If the water main doesn’t break as we open the hydrant, causing us to go elsewhere for a water supply, it most surely will break at some point during firefighting operations or as we close the hydrant after a fire.”
Worse yet, subsequent breaks may occur several days after a fire hydrant is used. Age, pressure fluctuations and natural deterioration have all contributed to the vulnerability of Flossmoor’s water system, Sewall said.
Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said this testing will compliment Flossmoor's current water system repair project. The contract was awarded to M.E. Simpson Company, Inc. of Valparaiso, IN at a unit price of $46 per hydrant. The company is much better equipped than the village to test each hydrant without disrupting the already fragile system, Sewell said. In addition to testing, the contract also provides for GPS tagging of all of Flossmoor’s hydrants. A final report of problematic valves will be submitted to the village upon completion of the work.
Both Flossmoor Public Works and the Flossmoor Fire Department worked together to help offset the costs of this long overdue project. Sewell and Public Works Director George Peluso sent a memo to the village manager explaining how the Fire Department eliminated two summer help positions relating to hydrant maintenance in anticipation of the testing costs. Public Works also eliminated a skilled labor water position and a summer help position to alleviate the financial burden.
According to the memo, the reduction in positions "should more than offset the costs of continuing the program beyond Fiscal Year 2013."