Central Fire Department Fire Chief speaks out

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

CENTRAL COMMUNITY, AR(KAIT) - New details in a story we first reported on Tuesday about the Central Community Fire Department's water use.

Now the Fire Chief is speaking out.

On Tuesday I told you about a report that the Central Fire Department in the Central Community was misusing water. Perhaps more than their fair share. The Chief Eric Lowery, says, that's not true.

Some questions need answering first.

Have firefighters been washing personal vehicles using the fire hydrant?

Donna Sefers, the Manager of the Crowley's Ridge Water Association says;

"We have had calls from customers in the area there that have told us that."

The Chief says yes, cars are being washed.

"We allow the guys to wash their cars here or do whatever, clean their cars up." It's a perk that they get he says.

Lowery showed me a hose and nozzle, hooked up to a metered faucet.

Another issue was using the hydrant to provide water for practice. Lowery says they use the trucks and refill them when the training is over. They don't, Lowery said, hook hoses up to the hydrant.

And filling up the tankers is perhaps the biggest issue that has caused the biggest blowups. After a fire, filling up a tank on a truck is normal procedure.

Some weeks ago the Water Associations field operator told the Chief they had depleted the water in the system for an hour and a half.

Lowery, "It takes 30 minutes to fill a truck. Then we shut it off. The conversation went down hill."

Later on the Chief called the operator and asked him what they could do to alleviate the problem.

"He said if it takes 30 minutes to fill a truck you're going to have to take an hour." That would mean opening up the hydrant only half way. Lowery told me that's not the way they were taught to operate a hydrant. He said it is hard on valves.

The Water Association has asked to meet with the Fire Board and or the Firefighters. To discuss alternatives such as a holding tank or a well. Currently those are beyond the financial reach of the department.

Both Sefers and Chief Lowery agree there have been some personality conflicts between the Chief and the Water Operator.

Both sides need to come to an agreement.

Lowery, "Come to some agreement with the Water Department for using the plug."

The Water Board wants 2 things basically. A sit down meeting with the department. And a phone call.

Sefers, "What we have asked them to do is just please call us if they are using the fire hydrant. So if our customers call and complain we can let them know what's going on."

"24-7" I asked? Yes.

For the moment there is no danger of the hydrant going away.

Sefers, "Everybody can get along if everybody puts forth the effort."

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