Fake Hydrants Real Problems

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So let’s say you don’t have enough fire hydrants. What do you do? Here’s an idea: Allow some “decorative” fire hydrants to be on a street’s edge to make people feel safer. After all, main thing is we should all feel safe. Don’t need any actual water to pull that off.

If you’ve got an off-kilter sense of humor, it was kind of funny yesterday to see the poor, backup fire crew from Hellsgate run hose 1,000 feet down the street and try to get water out of a cute little fire plug that hadn’t been attached to the water line for years.

The regular Payson crew knew better, but then they didn’t have enough hose to reach the real hydrant — some 1,300 feet down the street.

Fortunately, the fire truck was just down the street at the hospital when the call came in and got there so quickly the 500 gallons on the truck was enough to smother the blaze in the singlewide. They didn’t even really need the tanker truck, which pulled up after a bit.

So, how long must we put up with a system that allows a 1,300-foot interval between hydrants in the older sections of town? Today, fire codes call for a 500-foot interval — which means a fire truck with 1,000 feet of hose can hook up to two hydrants to fight any fire.

Fortunately, initial suspicions that the little red hydrant had failed for lack of flushing and checking proved unfounded. The town unwisely neglected the routine maintenance of hydrants for years — and has only recently got back on a reasonable maintenance schedule.

The real problem will prove much harder to solve. Clearly, many Payson homes and businesses remain dangerously far from the nearest hydrant. Retrofitting those areas will prove costly and time consuming.

The town was making progress upgrading hydrant lines whenever a new developer needed to tear up streets or extend lines — until construction died off.

What to do? We hope the town will explore stimulus funding or other creative solutions so that people living in older areas have just as much protection as the newcomers. Perhaps the fire hydrant question should be included in setting priorities for street rebuilds.

And in the interim, couldn’t fire trucks in neighborhoods with long gaps between hydrants carry more hose?

Those cute “decorative” hydrants made us feel all warm and cozy and safe up ’til now — but now that we’re in on the joke, we’re feeling distinctly nervous.

Whale of an event

Man. It was awesome, dude.

Eighteen pounds of bass. Massive fish. Towed the boat halfway across Roosevelt Lake.

We were going to throw a compressed air tank into that monster’s mouth and set it off with a .22, but instead decided to water ski behind the boat until Moby Bass got tired.

Just as we were gonna reel him in and win the brand new bass boat and the $20,000 cash prize, this 100-pound flathead catfish swims up and gobbles up that bass in one bite. Poor Max. Never let go of that pole. Ain’t seen him since.

And we do miss him. Still, it was a glorious day: Beautiful women, alluring lures, the smell of outboards. Took half the night and all the beer in the Mazatzal Casino just to get halfway done talking about it.

All of which raises a delicate question: How do you expound on about how great it was to have 500 fishermen in town without sounding like you’re telling a fish story?

Of course, you’ll believe us if you made it down to the starting line and saw that line of boats go roaring off across the lake, or if you jostled into position to watch the Walmart parking lot weigh-in or elbowed up to the bar at the casino, which sponsored the bass tournament and thereby provided everyone with a welcome boom in business.

The event provided another good weekend for hotels, restaurants and shops, as we putt-putt out of the recession like a bass boat in the weeds. We applaud the Tonto Apache Tribe and casino for having the imagination and smarts to host the event, and the town for providing support. The event would not have taken pace if a team of volunteers had not worked tirelessly to make it all run smoothly. And we hope those professionals will spread the word that Roosevelt provides some of the best bass fishing in the country — with Rim Country streams providing their own burbling fisherman’s paradise.

The event marks another vital step in cementing the region’s reputation as a fishing hot spot — which when combined with hiking, biking, camping and streamside lazing, can provide an economic base for a town known for too long as a fast food pit stop on the way to someplace else.

So this was big. How big? Like, man, THIS BIG.

No lie. You should have seen that catfish breach.

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