Village of Skaneateles takes steps to address fire flow issue

The village of Skaneateles is taking steps toward correcting a serious public safety issue: poor fire flow to hydrants.

Poor fire flow, or water pressure, to fire hydrants on the east side of the village has been a persistent problem that has been especially concerning to local firefighters.

In addition to recently making changes in how its water system operates, the village also plans to move forward with a capital project to replace water mains next year.

On Oct. 22, Skaneateles Fire Department president Jim Buff sent an email to village and town officials giving the results of testing that the fire department conducted on hydrants on Oct. 21. In the email, Buff reported that more hydrants are demonstrating flow problems than previously thought and that the model developed for the village by engineering firm GHD Associates may be flawed.

During these issues, Skaneateles Fire Department Chief Eric Sell has arranged for tanker trucks that carry their own water from neighboring departments to assist them if a fire were to occur near one of the unusable hydrants.

“A lot of work needs to be done and ASAP as the chief will have to revise his tanker operation knowing the results of the test,” Buff wrote.

Following Buff’s email, the village board planned a meeting with representatives of the fire department to discuss the issue of poor fire flow in the village.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 in the village office is meant to be a “roundtable discussion” meant to bring the fire department to speed with what is happening and hear any concerns they may have, Director of Municipal Operations Bob Lotkowictz said.

The problem has also garnered the attention of the Onondaga County Health Department who sent the village a letter dated March 8 of this year.

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