Local News

North Raleigh Residents Say Low Water Pressure Slowed Firefighting

Posted June 7, 1999

— Raleigh Fire Departmentofficials say low water pressure had nothing to do with their ability to fight an apartment fire Tuesday morning that left six people homeless. Some residents disagree.

People who live in the NorthRaleighneighborhood say it took firefighters between a half-hour and 45 minutes to begin dousing the flames after they arrived at the fire.

"I don't know what they were doing," says Latasha Brown, one of the people displaced by the damage. "They said they were trying to figure out a plan, but you can turn on water without having a plan." Brown believes the delay was caused by a lack of water.

Her neighbor, Wanda Freeman, agrees. "The firefighters did a wonderful job. There was a whole lot of them," she says. But, "I guess they did the best they could do, but I just think that it was a water shortage or just not enough water coming out," she says.

There are two other factors to consider. The city says because of a pump malfunction, parts of North Raleigh had extremely low water pressure Monday night.

There was also radio traffic from the firefighters saying they did not have enough water pressure, but Fire Marshal Earl Fowler says the firefighters were battling the blaze as soon as they arrived on the scene.

"This was not related at all to that problem. This was on a different grid. This was not on the same grid as that water system was," said Fowler.

The two water grids at issue are next to each other. They share common lines, but the city says when the fire was called in, both grids were at normal pressure.

Fowler says there was only a temporary lack of water when firefighters switched from booster tanks on the trucks to fire hydrants.

The firefighters also switched hydrants at one point, but Fowler says that is fairly routine.

City officials deny the mechanical failure that caused parts of North Raleigh to have extremely low water pressure Monday night had anything to do with fighting the early morning fire Tuesday.

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