Gulfport firefighters battle heat and faulty hydrant

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Flames were ripping through the roof at a Gulfport home Tuesday. Gulfport firefighters were quickly on the scene, dealing with more than just sweltering temperatures.

"The first arriving crews, they hooked up to a hydrant and it just so happened that hydrant didn't work," said Gulfport Fire Chief Michael Beyerstedt.

When the hydrant, 1,100 feet away from the house wasn't functioning correctly, Gulfport firefighters had to use another tool.

"We just set up a drop tank and dumped the water from the tank in our fire trucks into and used that as our supply," said Chief Beyerstedt.

He said it took 45 minutes to put the fire out, no more time than it would have if the fire hydrant was used, because they didn't run out of their water supply.

But, getting to the scene, his men were under the impression the hydrant was working because it had been replaced by the Public Works Department in June.

"Sometime between June 11 and yesterday, it was turned off and we do not know why," said Public Works Director Wayne Miller.

Miller said the fire department gives public works a list of non-functioning hydrants for them to fix. Of about 3,000 hydrants in Gulfport, Miller said an estimated 200 need to be fixed.

"We have been replacing upwards of two a week, on top of repairs," said Miller. "So we're knocking the list down pretty good."

That's something Chief Beyerstedt acknowledges.

"We've seen some great improvements over the last several years up there, so it was kind of an oddity for us," said Chief Beyerstedt.

An oddity, he said, the Gulfport firefighters were, and will always be, prepared for. But one that Miller said they'll hopefully never have to experience again.

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