Fire hydrants installed in San Pedro

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 32            September 4, 2003

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Buildings burning out of control and bucket brigades may finally be a thing of the past in San Pedro Town. This week, island residents witnessed the placement of the first of nine fire hydrants scheduled for installation. For firefighters or anyone who has suffered the ill effects and loss from fire, this is the answer to many prayers.

    The installation of the first fire hydrant, situated in front of the San Pedro Fire Department, was completed on Monday. This unit provides insurance that fire trucks are filled and ready at all times, in case of emergency.

    The remaining eight hydrants will be installed over the next two weeks in key locations on the island. They are: 1) Sailfish Street in the San Marcos Area, 2) Water Lane in the San Pedrito Area, 3) Spider Lily Street in the San Juan Area, 4) Coconut Drive and Manta Ray Street near Ramon's, 5) Coconut Drive and Esmeralda Street near the primary school, 6) Coconut Drive and Hurricane Street near Playador, 7) Swan Street lagoon side, and 8) Angel Coral Street (Back Street) on the north side of the Old Football Field.

    Speaking with representatives from Belize Water Services it was learned that whenever possible, excavation for the installation of hydrants will be scheduled to minimize the need to disrupt the flow of traffic. Also, as a matter of convenience, work will be performed after normal water usage hours, with crews starting as late as 8:00 p.m. In addition, extra BWS personnel have been sent from the mainland to assist with this project. It was stated that the plan was designed with the kind cooperation of the San Pedro Town Council. Times, dates and locations will reportedly be announced on radio and television.

    A milestone for the island, this project has been "a long time coming." Back in May of 2002, The San Pedro Sun covered a story on the lack of any functioning fire hydrants on the island. Within a couple of months, progress was reported as meetings were held between Belize Water Services, the National Fire Service and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Renewal, regarding the costs and financing needed for the hydrant project. Now, after several years of petitioning and negotiations, the island's fire service has finally received these much-needed fire fighting devices.

   According to sources at Belize Water Services, this is a joint effort, although no definitive financials, such as who is paying what, could be revealed. Calls to the National Fire Service and various government ministries produced no further information on the subject.

    As a matter of clarification, and to alleviate any political speculation, during the Sun's investigation it was learned that the hydrants are painted blue because they are the same type of hydrants used in the United Kingdom. In the UK, all water pipes are painted blue to distinguish them from pipes containing other materials.

    It was further revealed that there are no meters attached to the hydrants to measure the water used during emergencies. Unconfirmed reports revealed that it is believed the Government of Belize will finance any water usage as a public service.
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