La. Firefighters Must Haul Water to Fires, Could Affect Insurance Ratings

August 30, 2007

Livingston Parish in Louisiana is growing faster than the supply of water needed to fight fires.

The parish needs more fire hydrants and higher water pressure to fight fires in new subdivisions, Brian Drury, president of the Livingston Parish Fire Chief’s Association, said Tuesday.

“We’re dangling by a thread with our fire insurance ratings,” Drury said.

Firefighters must haul water to many parts of the parish, causing road hazards as well as firefighting problems, said Ronnie Cotton, director of the parish’s 911 Center.

“It’s a big-time safety hazard when you have a lot of firetrucks racing up and down the road in two directions,” Drury said.

Even as fire departments face more and more calls, the number of volunteer firefighters is falling, said Brian Fairburn, head of the parish’s Office of Emergency Preparedness.

At a recent fire east of Denham Springs, only three of the 16 firefighters were actually fighting the fire. “The rest were trying to manage the water problem,” Denham Springs Fire Chief Ivy “Woody” Cutrer said.

Drury said he would like a new parish ordinance requiring developers to install fire hydrants and pipelines big enough for them in all new subdivisions.

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