Local News

December 21, 2013

Legislation spares unused fire hydrants

PLATTSBURGH — New Legislation has given communities like the City of Plattsburgh a reprieve on replacing inventoried fire hydrants.

The Community Fire Safety Act of 2013 was passed by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday night, and it lifts a requirement that all municipal fire hydrants in stock that contain lead components be eliminated as of Jan. 4, 2014, and replaced with new units.

The law would have meant that the City of Plattsburgh would have had to replace 18 fire hydrants at a cost of between $1,800 and $2,000 each.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued its interpretation of the 2011 Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, and it called for fire hydrants to be included due to the very rare occurrence that they are used for drinking water.

But U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) pushed for the new legislation that permanently exempts fire hydrants from the law. The bill unanimously passed the Senate, and a companion bill was approved earlier this month by the House.

“The EPA’s sudden mandate to include fire hydrants, which are not a prime source for drinking water, in their reduced-lead standards was a classic case of federal bureaucracy unwisely harming our local communities and their budgets,” Schumer said in a statement.

“Thankfully, common sense prevailed, and members from both parties and both houses came together to pass this bill that saves municipalities across New York millions of dollars in costs that would otherwise be flushed away.”

“This certainly is good news,” City of Plattsburgh Public Works Superintendent Mike Brodi said.

“It’s not easy to come up with $36,000 out of the blue, especially when it really is not necessary.”

The city has 527 fire hydrants in operation, and Brodi said they replace a few each year as needed.

The Town of Plattsburgh, which also maintains fire hydrants for Beekmantown and Schuyler Falls, does not have a large inventory of reserve hydrants. 

Town Director of Water/Wastewater Utilities Scott Stoddard said they only have one or two units in stock and can order more if needed.

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