Flushing Out Hazleton’s Water Problem

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HAZLETON -- Firefighters believe the city of Hazleton is getting hosed with water problems.  When putting out a fire last week, firefighters discovered the hydrant they wanted to use didn't have enough water in it.

The Hazleton Fire Department was able to put out that fire last week on West 5th Street.

Now the firefighters are hoping to plug the water problem.

On Monday, the fire department met with the water authority and mayor to come up with a colorful new plan.

It was at the 4th of July fire on West 5th Street in Hazleton that the firefighters realized they had a problem: not enough water in the nearby hydrant to put out the fire.

"We went to use the hydrant and had low to no water out of the hydrant. We immediately went over a block over to a hydrant, and it had excellent water," said Chief Donald Leshko, Hazleton Fire Department.

The Hazleton City Authority is about to start a $6.5 million project to repair water mains and hydrants throughout the city. But that will take some time.

Fire Chief Leshko met with the water authority and mayor to come up with an additional plan.

At the meeting, city leaders determined that they would start testing the fire hydrants and color-coding the tops of them so they know which ones have good water flow and which ones don't.

"If you're going to fix it - or when you're going to fix it - we don't care, as long as we know that that's a low pressure one. We don't want to tie into it," said Mayor Joe Yanuzzi.

The city hopes the color-coding plan will save the fire department time when they arrive at a fire.

A neighbor said she used to live in the house that burned last week.  She was there when it went up in flames.

"It took 10 minutes before they could even start putting out the fire."

She says the new plan is good in theory but she still has her doubts.

"Hopefully there is at least one on the block that is able to produce enough water to maintain the situation."

The Hazleton fire department hopes to have all 291 hydrants in the city color coded in the next month or two.

The $6.5 million repair project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The water authority also says it will keep the fire department updated when it makes any repairs.