Local News

Drought Conditions Leave Firefighters Looking For Water Sources

Posted June 26, 2002 10:20 a.m. EDT

— Fighting fires in a city usually is not a problem because there are hydrants spread throughout the area. In the country, rural fire departments depend on farm ponds for water, but with no rain, many are drying up.

In rural areas, fire departments are mostly staffed by volunteers, but fighting fire means having water to do the job and that is getting harder because of the lack of water in ponds.

Orange Grove's pumper truck carries about 2,500 gallons of water, which lasts roughly 15 minutes during firefighting. A backup fire station is usually called on fires in the area, but without water from ponds, the job gets harder.

"If the ponds were full, we could probably take two deparments and go ahead and get it done, where now we may have to use three or four if we had something big so we would have the water there," firefighter Richard Sykes said.

As the small ponds begin to dry up, Sykes writes them down one by one on a board in the firehouse. What makes the situation even worse is that the fire department's water hookup is an irrigation pond on a local farm.

"We don't want to dry these ponds up that the farmers are irrigating from if we don't have too," Sykes said. "We just have to do the best we can."

The firefighters said they do not expect to run into a lot of trouble, but it will just take more manpower and effort with fewer ponds to use.