UNDER PRESSURE | Baltimore's fire hydrants fail at a time of need

Broken Fire Hydrants (Photo: Think Stock)

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Ten rowhomes in Curtis Bay destroyed by a fire. As homeowners endure the loss, they wonder how fire hydrants may have failed firefighters that day.

One man lives in a neighbor’s basement. Another family moved in with in-laws. They have been homeless since July 3rd, when a fire destroyed ten homes on Hazel Street in South Baltimore.

Fox45’s Crime and Justice Team obtained audio of fire department communications during the fire:

“The plug at Filbert [St] and Curtis [Ave] is down. It’s a dead plug, I’ve got to find you a secondary water source,” one firefighter is heard saying.

Two other hydrants are found to have no water pressure. Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD) Chief Niles Ford, says firefighters are prepared to handle such scenarios.

“It’s not something that’s common, but our folks are trained to deal with emergency situations that occur,” Ford said in a press conference two days after the fire.

In response to our questions about the “dead plug,” the Department of Public Works and BCFD wrote in a joint statement,” it was determined the hydrant was damaged internally.

This can occur when, in the heat of battle, firefighters crank open the hydrants too quickly. We believe this is what happened to this hydrant. It was quickly replaced and put back in service.”

The city also pointed to small water mains, that prevented multiple fire hoses from drawing water.

All of the hydrants in the area had passed inspections. The “dead plug” passed 3 inspections over a year’s period, including one performed a week before the fire. Two days after the fire, the hydrant was still found capable of fighting fires, but was replaced July 7. (The fire happened July 3.)

“They don’t care. The city don’t care about this area, at all. They don’t care about nothing around here,” Leonard Burrs said, as he keeps an eye on his house, wondering why it burned.

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