Of the 630 total fire hydrants in the city, there are currently 27 out of service. Despite this, Fire Chief Chris Stempowski said the Vermilion Fire Department is ready to respond. At Monday’s Health & Safety Committee meeting, Service Director Tony Valerius gave an update on the city’s fire hydrants following the annual hydrant flushing. Valerius answered questions following a request by Councilman Frank Loucka about their efficiency.

                Valerius said the city has been keeping good records of the hydrants for the last five years. He said the 630 hydrants in the city do no include private hydrants. Over the past five years, the city has installed 57 hydrants, most of those part of water main replacement projects. Forty-nine have been repaired during the same time period. Currently, there are 27 out of service hydrants, 17 of which are worth fixing, and 10 not worth fixing due to the low flow. He said these hydrants have the top painted yellow on them, which indicates they are out of service.

                Fire Chief Chris Stempowski said this is a critical statement made by Valerius. He said he understands people wanting to spruce up their hydrants. “But if there’s a yellow cap hydrant out there, that’s critical to our operations. And if somebody paints that, red or white, other than the yellow, there could be a delay in our response if we’re hooking to a non-working hydrant. That bonnet really needs to stay yellow if it’s yellow.”

                Councilwoman Barb Brady said the department probably doesn’t use a hydrant in VOL because of the lack of water pressure. The chief said this is correct. He said the standing directive now is anything down in the village, they are going to hook onto Berkley or Edgewater. Brady asked if it is worth keeping the hydrant serviceable. Stempowski deferred to Valerius. Valerius explained when they flush hydrants, they do check the pressure. He said ten on the east side had low flow, about 150 gallons per minute. He said he did not know what flow the VFD looks for. He said there is one on Berkley by Overlook that pushes out 1,000 gallons a minute. Valerius said that would be on of the highest pressure hydrants in the city. “We’ll take that,” said Stempowski. He suggested meeting to discuss the hydrants specifically.

                Council at Large Monica Stark said to put any bad feelings at bay, “We are fully equipped to fight fires in that area.” Stempowski said he never wants to negate fire hydrants, but he said the VFD is fortunate to have the fleet of apparatus it has. Each engine carries 1,000 gallons of water. They also have foam systems on them. He said the department also has a tanker that carries 3,000 gallons of water. They also have automatic mutual aid agreements.

                From the audience, North Ridge resident Gary Dodson asked the chief about his response to being able to fight a fire in a 65-foot structure. Councilman Holmes said it depends on the structure. He asked should a fire not be suppressed by meeting what is required in code, he asked if the department would have to have additional equipment. “Knowing what I know, which is very little, I wouldn’t see the fire department needing anything additional.” Dodson asked if the department could get to the roof with its current trucks. Stempowski said the height of the current ladder truck is 95 feet. “I can’t react to what I don’t know is there,” said Stempowski.

                Cooper Foster resident Tom Palmer asked about water availability in that part of the city. He asked about fire hydrants in that area. Valerius said those are not city hydrants. They belong to Northern Ohio Rural Water.