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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Hydrants scheduled to be fixed by end of month

Shelli Racicot started calling Spokane Valley Fire Department several months ago to complain about a fire hydrant in her neighborhood that’s been out of commission since June. She’s finally getting results.

Her hydrant, located near Alki and Best, is among a dozen hydrants slated for repair by crews from Vera Water & Power. The repairs are expected to be finished by the end of the month, barring any unforeseen blizzards or ice storms.

“I just would really like to see them put back into service. We want to make sure we’re covered if something happens,” Racicot said.

Racicot’s neighborhood fire hydrant is among nearly 900 hydrants used by Valley Fire, but maintained by Vera Water & Power.

They’re part of a network of nearly 3,000 to 4,000 hydrants throughout the Valley that are maintained by different water districts, said David Lobdell, assistant chief for Valley Fire. Within the entire network, 28 hydrants need repairing, based on inspections by Valley Fire last summer. Thirteen of the hydrants are within Vera’s district.

“We have had a problem in some areas when they (hydrants) haven’t been fixed in as timely a manner as we would prefer,” Lobdell said.

Valley Fire keeps a list of broken hydrants and dispatches pumper trucks to fight fires in those neighborhoods, Lobdell said. The trucks contain water, but firefighting with access to hydrants is substantially easier.

While homes in neighborhoods without operating hydrants aren’t lacking fire protection, homeowners can pay higher rates for insurance.

Steve Skipworth, director of operations for Vera Water & Power, said crews assessed all 13 broken hydrants, which are labeled as not working. They repaired four and ordered parts for nine hydrants, which include some that are 50 years old.

“This is an ongoing process. With hydrants, when you have that many, you have some that are going to get broken.”

Crews typically repair broken hydrants in the fall, Skipworth explained, after the utility company receives a list of hydrants that fail Valley Fire’s summer inspection.

However, this year repairs stalled because in addition to the usual maintenance, new hookups and customer service calls, Vera crews were busy with two huge sewer projects, Skipworth said.

“Usually we can get this taken care of in the fall without any problem. This year there was no way in heck.”

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