New hydrants will benefit Harrison County fire services - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New hydrants will benefit Harrison County fire services

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS  (WLOX) -  Harrison County firefighters spent the day Wednesday pumping water from the Wolf River.

They're doing the required evaluation of the county's fire pumper trucks.

Unlike their counterparts in the cities, who rely mostly on hydrants, county firefighters often draw water from rivers, lakes or ponds to fight fires in the rural areas.

So the practice pumping on the Wolf River is nothing unusual for them.

But there are hundreds of new fire hydrants in the near future.

Harrison County's fire trucks are put to the test along the banks of the Wolf River. The fire rating bureau requires this annual evaluation of pumper trucks and firefighting equipment.

"We figure out what its rating is. Most of these are all 1,250 gallons per minute. And then we do a test at 50 percent, and 80 percent and 100 percent to figure out if the truck is working properly, so we don't have any problems when there's actually a call," said veteran firefighter, William Faulk.

Results of the water pump testing help designate a fire rating for the county, which then determines how much rural residents pay for insurance.

Drafting water from the river is nothing new for these county firefighters.

With an absence of hydrants in the unincorporated areas, they often rely on whatever water source is available.

"Normal procedure. If we had a fire in this area, we would be using the water from this river to supply the trucks to fight a fire," said fire marshal George Mixon.

"Pull it from rivers, ponds, swimming pools. We even have low level strainers where we can pull it out of a ditch if there's enough water in the ditch," said Faulk.

Soon, the county fire crews will have new sources of water for firefighting.   A countywide utility improvement project is erecting water towers, drilling wells and installing new fire hydrants.

"We hope that within two years when this project is completed, with the 500 thousand gallon water towers, the water wells, the water mains and the fire hydrants every 300 feet, that this will be a big improvement toward the lowering of the fire insurance rates for people in the unincorporated areas," said Mixon.

You can find evidence of the water improvement project throughout the county, whether it's new water lines on Cuevas-Delisle Road, or the many new fire hydrants that are popping up along Menge Avenue.

"We're going to have to do more training with the hydrants themselves, rather than this, but we'll still be able to do this in case of emergency when we need it," says Faulk.

Harrison County is also building a new fire station on Canal Road. Fire station number 14 is a $300,000 project.   It should be finished by late summer.

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