Holyoke city councilor: Water pressure a possible factor in hydrant failure during Fairfield Ave. fire

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The failure of a hydrant this weekend has residents asking why? But the issue may be bigger than the hydrants themselves. 

A fire on Fairfield Avenue burned the Langevin family home to the ground. The closest hydrant to the home wasn’t working, and residents like Joe Oleksak said a better system is needed to test them. 

“Obviously, because it didn’t work, but I think part of the problem is that until they do the water mains and stuff, it is not going to resolve these issues,” Oleksak told 22News. 

While the director of the Water Department did not return calls from 22News, City Councilor James Lahey said he spoke with Director Conti, who said the problem is the water pressure. 

“If you look at one of the hydrants, and there is a white painting on the side, it means it is connected to a high-pressure pipe,” said Lahey. “And if there isn’t, then it is connected to something twelve inches or under.” 

It’s an issue the city has known about and has even bonded money to pay for replacing old pipes. Lahey said the water commissioners voted to move forward with the bond last week, so the pipe replacement happens, but not overnight. 

“Just Fairfield Ave. itself, it is a long street, and there are two pipes going down it,” Lahey explained. “That is going to cost $2 million in itself. How long is it going to take? We aren’t sure, but this is work we are going to move forward on.” 

The mayor has said he is ordering a complete audit of hydrants throughout the city to make sure this doesn’t happen again. 22News asked Councilor Lahey where responsibility lies for Sunday’s system failure. He said moving forward, he hopes communication can make a key difference. 

Reporter: Is there anyone to be held accountable in this situation? Or is the city really just chalking it up to poor infrastructure? 

City Councilor Lahey: Well that is one of the things we are going to have to look at. I’m calling the commissioners to our meeting. We want to make sure we have great communication between the water department and the fire department, so they know why hydrants are working, and which hydrants are not working because of the piping. 

Lahey said state law now requires these hydrants be tested annually. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Only on WWLP.com | Digital First

More Digital First

State Police Overtime Scandal

More State Police Overtime Investigation

Trending Stories

Donate Today