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Knox ramping up fire protection measures with more hydrants

KNOX, Ind. - Knox is working to make its city safer one fire hydrant at a time. As of 2018. the Water Department has replaced or added 26 fire hydrants throughout the city--some of which have been around for more than a century.

Some areas have never had access to one before, which has caused problems for the fire department in the past.

"We have some that are 110 to 112 years old, and they just outlive their lifespan and actually the lifespan of being able to get parts for them," said Knox Water Superintendent, Todd Gardner.

Since he assumed the superintendent position six years ago, Gardner has been on a mission to make sure all 220 fire hydrants throughout Knox are in working order, so in 2012, the town incorporated a fire hydrant fee along with their bills.

That fee amounts to $3.01 a person a month.

That additional revenue has allowed the water department to replace 26 broken fire hydrants.

"We had [them] around town that had been accumulated over years and years and years that were just outdated or don’t’ function or have a bad water line going up to them," said Gardner.

He says it costs $2,300 to buy just the hydrant and $650 to $700 for a valve.

Paying the department's three employees to replace the hydrants just adds on to that total.

“Some of them were only getting like 400 gallons a minute. Now, we’re getting like 800 gallons per a minute in some areas for fire protection," said Gardner.

He says they've also added five brand new hydrants in areas that have gone without any.

They installed one on a side street off of Heaton St. near Lake St. after he says the fire chief told him they had to run hoses under the train tracks to get water to fight a fire years ago, and it was a nightmare.

The main purpose of this project is safety, of course, but there's an added bonus.

“It helps your insurance rates for the city, especially if you’re adding hydrants to spots where they didn’t have them, because it gives us better fire protection throughout the city," said Gardner.

The superintendent says they're looking at replacing at least four fire hydrants on E Washington Street this year.


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