MALVERN, Ala. (WDHN) — James Tyson, who lost his newly built home to fire caused by lightning in July has been trying to get answers from the town and fire department about why a fire hydrant that was over 2000 feet away from his home was locked during the time of an emergency and why there wasn’t a key.
According to the town officials, the hydrant was locked by the town after they learned a homeowner was stealing water to fill up their pool.
They say the fire department has three sets of keys. Malvern fire chief Anthony Johnston says the assistant chief on the scene had a key with him but due to the extent of the fire, it wasn’t his first thought.
“He was busy trying to let the other departments know and paint a picture for them about what they had going and how much of the house was on fire,” He said.
Johnson said they had to cut the lock off the hydrant to put out the fully engulfed home on County Road 49 that looked to be a total loss when they arrived. He said cutting the lock off a hydrant could be longer and create a delay but it depends where the key is. In this case, it was quicker.
“If the key was left in the truck then it would be more time they would have to run back, get it, and then go,” Johnston said.
Tyson said he was also told a fire hydrant would be placed at the halfway point of his road due to the new development that has been taking place in that immediate area over the last year and a half but the town refused to.
Town officials say they never had discussions about putting another hydrant in the area of his home.
They believe the realtor selling the land should have come to the council to talk about any zoning requirements and infrastructure needs like a fire hydrant before building but that did not happen.
They say if they noticed a lack of fire protection, the realtor could have added a fire protection fee in the land cost to help pay for a fire hydrant which is a town’s expense.
“If the town had to come out of pocket it would have been about 10,000 dollars,” He added.
The town says if they had come to the council beforehand, most likely things would have been different like possibly a hydrant in a central area that would service the new homes.
The town says the lock is no longer on the hydrant in case there is another emergency in that area.