Lack of hydrants in rural areas poses problems for firefighters

By Brandon Richards - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) –It is a problem that has plagued firefighters in rural areas for years.

A lack of fire hydrants not only serves as a major headache for firefighters; it also presents real danger to residents who live in rural areas, as evident by two area house fires this week.

While firefighters worked as hard as they could, they were fighting a losing battle trying to save a home on Fairfax Drive south of Lake Charles.

The home was completely destroyed.

While there are a number of factors that go into fighting fires, officials said the home's location is partly to blame.

"We don't have a water system [south of Lake Charles]. So you're going to have to carry [water] in on the trucks," said Lake Charles Fire Chief Keith Murray. "You're only going to fight the fire with what you bring."

There are some things firefighters can do to fight fires in rural areas, like piping water from nearby ponds. But that is not always an option.

Even if firefighters were able to find a water supply to tap into, depending on the distance, it might not help as much as one would think.

"If you lay a thousand feet of hose, there may only be 10lbs. of pressure at the other end," said Murray. "All of that pressure was lost pushing it through the hose."

Such was the case on Thursday when a fire destroyed a mobile home near Moss Bluff.

Murray said there are some fire hydrants in rural parts of northern Calcasieu Parish, but none south of Lake Charles.

Another concern is the number of fire stations south of Lake Charles. There are only two stations and many residents live miles away from them.

"They don't have a water supply system. That's the way rural firefighting is. That's the way rural living is," said Murray.

The parish has a contract with the City of Lake Charles to provide fire service to the area south of Lake Charles.

In the early 1990s, residents who live south of Lake Charles voted down a measure that would have paid for the installation of their own water system.

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