A blaze earlier this month in Portland has drawn attention to hydrant maintenance issues in town because when crews got to the fire, they couldn't use the hydrant that was right across the street.
Firefighters told Eyewitness News that the hydrant has not been working for nearly two years.
On Nov. 5, firefighters were able to knock down a chimney fire at a home at 16 Riverside St. No one was injured during the fire, but there were problems with a hydrant during the blaze.
Riverside Street resident Matt Rose was surprised to learn that firefighters could not use the hydrant right across the road from the home.
"It's just not safe for everybody," he said. "Quite a few people live here, including kids."
Just as alarming to Rose is that the fire hydrant is located right next to the front half of a housing complex.
"This is the only fire hydrant that right presently, is not working," said Portland Public Works Department Director Rick Kelsey.
The fact that firefighters could not tap that hydrant has brought renewed attention to hydrant maintenance issues in Portland, which First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield said she began addressing in March.
"The problem is, that it wasn't fixed in a timely manner, and that's the issue that can't happen again," she told Eyewitness News.
Kelsey said the public works department has made good progress in addressing hydrant repairs, hydrant flows and other issues. However, he said it takes time when the department has a small staff in a small town with a water system that has parts more than 100 years old.
"We are a small department, and we have a lot to do," Kelsey said. "So sometimes things don't get done as timely as we'd like and as timely as the fire department would like. But, we do our best."
Town officials told Eyewitness News that the Riverside Street hydrant should be up and running on Monday.
Kelsey also stated that in the case of the Nov. 5 fire, even though the hydrant across the street was not working, there were a total of four others in a reasonable proximity that crews could tap into.
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