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Baltimore Fire Department investigating 'dry' hydrants after Curtis Bay fire

Posted at 6:44 PM, Jul 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 07:01:00-04

Two fire hydrants were checked in the last two months and still they didn’t work when Baltimore firefighters needed to put a fire in the Curtis Bay neighborhood on Monday.

Baltimore Fire Chief Niles Ford said Wednesday morning while ‘dry’ hydrants are not a common problem in the city, his firefighters were able to work around the problem.

Answers into what started the 3-alarm fire on Hazel Street are still buried within the debris. 

RELATED: 10 homes involved in 3-alarm Curtis Bay fire

Chief Ford is also looking into why the hydrants weren’t working.

“If the hydrants aren’t working, they report them and then the hydrants are repaired,” he said at Wednesday morning’s Board of Estimates meeting.

Two hydrants weren’t spewing water.

"It’s not extraordinarily common, primarily because our people check the hydrants every six months and flow water. In fact the two hydrants that we’re discussing, they checked those hydrants — one nine days ago and the other one 44 days ago,” Ford said.

Still, there was no water.

Fortunately, Ford says firefighters jumped to other hydrants nearby. However the three-year chief is scratching his head as to why the hydrants weren’t functioning.

RELATED: Residents attempt to return to damaged homes in Curtis Bay after fire

“While our people were on the scene, it was repaired,” Ford said.

Jeffrey Raymond from Baltimore’s Department of Public Works sent a statement:

Baltimore City Department of Public Works performs maintenance or replacement, if needed, of hydrants that are inspected by the Baltimore City Fire Department. As the Chief noted, two hydrants reported as “dry” at the Hazel Street fire on Monday were checked quite recently by the Fire Department and found to be operating properly. No hydrants in the area were on the repair list.

By having agencies, including Fire and Public Works, working together, Baltimore was able 18 months ago to score a rating among the highest in the nation, as judged by an insurance industry group.

According to officials, the fire department conducts ‘flow tests’ every six months. There was one conducted Wednesday at a hydrant a block from Hazel Street.

“Our people are trained to be able to navigate around these circumstances. This is not a — yes it sounds like a major deal, but it’s something that we do all of the time. So it wasn’t a difficult challenge for them,” Ford said.

It’s still a hurdle, at least initially and a problem that could’ve been much worse.

Chief Ford says the issue with the fire hydrants may have been a malfunction or a bad valve in the system.

Monday's fire displaced affected 6 homes and 28 people. The Red Cross is helping 23 people who were displaced by the fire.