East Cleveland, OH - Inspections of nearly 800 fire hydrants in East Cleveland discovered 12 percent either had no water, low pressure or had major defects, according to Fire Chief Mike Celiga.
Here's a breakdown:
18 hydrants had no water in them
35 hydrants had low pressure
43 hydrants had what Celiga called "major defects"
"Anything that would have slowed us down, I call that a major defect," the chief explained.
That can include issues like connection caps that are stuck in place or damaged threads making it difficult to connect fire hoses to the hydrant.
Issues with East Cleveland's fire hydrants came to the forefront last month after a fire on East 125th Street. In that case, firefighters said they had a difficult time getting enough water from hydrants to fight the flames. While crews searched for adequate water pressure, investigators say two more homes caught fire.
Celiga admitted low water flow from hydrants is an issue in the neighborhoods surrounding that fire. He blames the problem on build-up inside the water mains.
"Like in your arteries in your heart, if you don't eat good, your arteries start to narrow," explained Celiga. "So do our water lines. That's a six-inch water main that's down there. It may be four inches right now or smaller."
To combat the problem, the city now plans to relay water into those areas from other nearby hydrants with higher pressure.
While the chief admitted it may slow firefighters, he says it's the best available option.
But the plan isn't sitting well with everyone.
Three of the hydrants close to Janet Eason's home on Carlyon are on the low-pressure list.
"What happened on 125th can happen over here," said Eason.
While the chief said repairing or replacing the water mains could cost millions of dollars and take time, Eason worries waiting could cost her everything.
"Yeah I'm concerned," she said. "It's about me now. It's about my life, my neighbors, my family. I don't like it and I wish they'd do something about it."
The fire department has already fixed some of the hydrants itself. Other, more complex repairs have been sent to Cleveland Water.
The chief says the city is evaluating the best fix for low-pressure areas but insists firefighters will still be able to get water to the scene of a fire anywhere in the city.