Payette implementing new plan to prevent frozen fire hydrants after fatal house fire

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-10 19:33:54-05

A fatal house fire in Payette last week now has city leaders and first responders looking into the issue of frozen fire hydrants, after crews responding to that fire discovered the closest fire hydrant had frozen over.

Though the State Fire Marshal has said the frozen hydrant would not have changed the outcome of last week’s fire, the city has developed a new plan to make sure firefighters have working hydrants.

“I’ve been on [the force] for 20 years, obviously haven’t made every fire, but this was our first experience with a frozen fire hydrant in my time,” said Steve Castenada, Payette City Fire Chief.

The City of Payette recently inspected all of the just over 300 fire hydrants in the city. Results show five additional fire hydrants had frozen over.

“If the drain holes in the bottom become plugged for whatever reason, then the hydrant won’t drain properly,” said Jacob Hust, Water Superintendent for the City of Payette.

The city plans to flush hydrants twice a year and do a visual inspection of each unit before the first frost of the year. 

The city will also replace aging hydrants.

“The City of Payette is also going to get bids to hire somebody to do that and maybe get them replaced a little bit quicker and just be as proactive as we can,” said Payette Mayor Jeff Williams. 

And while fire investigators say that frozen hydrant firefighters encountered last week didn’t contribute to its outcome, city leaders say it alerted the community to an issue needing to be addressed.

“Unfortunate circumstances, incidents lead to, ‘How can we learn from this?” Williams said. “…and that’s what I hope happens on this.”

The Payette Fire Department is also reminding folks to make sure their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working.

Firefighters are installing them and changing out batteries for free for those living in Payette.