EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 30, 2008

Councilor says city has to fix fire hydrants

By Jason Tait , Staff Writer

HAVERHILL - City Councilor Kenneth Quimby was listening to his fire scanner recently and heard that a hydrant was not working in Rocks Village, where firefighters were battling a chimney fire.

That was enough for Quimby.

He has heard too often about broken hydrants, and is now asking for a report from the fire chief about how many hydrants in the city are not functioning and when they will be repaired.

What worries Quimby is a situation where a big fire gets out of control and burns an entire block, much like the fire in South Lawrence last week.

"I don't want that happening to Haverhill," Quimby said last night.

At a meeting last night, the City Council decided to ask the fire chief for an update on hydrant repairs and how many are out of service. Mayor James Fiorentini, who did not attend the meeting, increased the fire hydrant repair fund by 68 percent this year to $50,000, according to the city budget.

Councilor William Ryan also highlighted the need to repair the bendable rods connected to the tops of hydrants to allow firefighters to find them when they are buried in snow.

Ryan said most of the rods downtown are bent.

In other City Council business last night:

* The Traffic and Safety Committee will be asked to study the possibility of installing a traffic light at Route 97 and Lake Street, which Councilor James Donahue calls a dangerous intersection.

A flashing yellow light is at the intersection now, and residents have said it is difficult to turn onto Route 97 because traffic is too dense.

"I don't think the blinking light does the job," Donahue said.

City Councilor Michael McGonagle said the city may want to consider reducing the 40 mph speed limit.

* The Police Department will be asked to study a speeding complaint on Farmington Avenue near the Methuen line off River Street.

Donahue said he received a complaint from a father who said cars were going too fast. The Traffic and Safety Committee also will study this issue.

* The American Legion was granted a license for two coin-operated machines, one of them a juke box, but cannot install the devices until an overhead sprinkler system is installed in the building. The organization lost its liquor license this month because it does not have a sprinkler system.