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Water commissioners want to talk hydrants with fire commissioners

OSSIPEE WATER & SEWER Precinct Commissioners Randy Lyman (left) and Elliot Harris are joined by manager Doug Sargent during the monthly meeting Monday. (Mellisa Ferland photo) (click for larger version)
March 10, 2011
OSSIPEE — Ossipee Water and Sewer Commissioners were surprised to read last week's Carroll County Independent only to learn there is an apparent communication problem between them and the Center Ossipee Fire Precinct Commissioners.

The fire commissioners and chief complained at their annual precinct meeting last week that they cannot get any maintenance schedules or records for the 47 fire hydrants in Center Ossipee. Because of this, when it comes times to set the precinct's fire insurance rating they will have no records to show the rating company and this could result in higher property insurance rates for precinct homeowners.

At Monday's water commissioner's meeting, however, the department manager rolled out maps and cards and log books that detail the maintenance that is done regularly as well as special repairs as needed.

The fire commissioners said they have tried numerous times to get the communication lines open without success. The water commissioners counter and say they haven't seen a fire commissioner in a long time.

"I haven't seen a commissioner or a chief in here for years," said Commissioner Elliot Harris from the precinct's office in a town-owned building on Dore Street. They even produced a letter dated 2007 and said that was the last formal communication they have had with Center Ossipee Fire commissioners. The water commissioners meet the first Monday of every month at 1 p.m.

The fire precinct pays the water and sewer department about $18,000 per year. In exchange, according to Water and Sewer Manager Doug Sargent, the water department flushes all the hydrants twice a year (spring and fall) while inspecting them for damage. They also clear the snow away from all hydrants, paint them, and color code them based on the water pressure coming out of the hydrant.

Due to a reporter's error, the photograph of the hydrant bagged out of service in last week's paper was incorrectly stated as being unusable at the Straughan house fire last fall. It was actually a hydrant that was unusable at the Hitching Post fire that occurred on the same street earlier in the year.

Sargent said when firefighters turned that one on water started spraying out of the base of the hydrant because it had a broken breakaway flange. He said this occurs when a vehicle hits a hydrant and it goes unreported. He did say that water department responded quickly as they do to all fires on the town's hydrant system and we able to put the hydrant back in service before the firefighters were done mopping up the fire scene. And while this problem would have been detected during the routine maintenance of spring and fall flushing of the system, it would otherwise go undetected if damage to a hydrant is unreported and not immediately visible.

"When some people drive cars in odd fashions it causes problems for the hydrant system," said water commissioner Randy Lyman. She said the water department has installed poles in the ground around several hydrants in town in high traffic or narrow traffic areas to try to prevent them from getting hit by vehicles.

Lyman added she was surprised that the fire commissioners claim she is unreachable as she even sits on the board of a local non-profit with one of them.

She said the water department's daily log as well as the hydrant maintenance cards are available to the commissioner's or the fire chief anytime they wish to see them. The water commissioners meet the first Monday of every month at 1 p.m. either at the town hall or their office building on Dore Street and the public is welcome to attend.

Additionally, Sargent said the offer to teach hydrant class to the Center and West Ossipee fire departments is an offer that he has made a few times and one that is still open if they are interested in participating. Anyone with questions or concerns about the water, sewer or hydrant systems in Center Ossipee can call 539-7150.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Alton School
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