KCMO fire hydrants may make you feel safer than they should

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The fire hydrant in your neighborhood may be making you feel safer than it should.

Last weekend, a Kansas City, Mo., man blamed the city for fire destroying his home.
     
Josh Priest, who lived at 26th and Stark, said the hydrant in his neighborhood did not work.

Hours after the fire, Priest praised his two-year-old child for saving his family.

Priest said, crying, "If it wasn't for my child, we'd be dead."

He said his child would not stop crying in the night. On Monday, he could not stop crying about losing everything he owned.

He said firefighters were stalled when the nearest hydrant failed to give them the water they needed.

"I asked the fire chief and he said 'There's no more water,'" Priest said.

41 Action News started digging after Priest's weekend tragedy.

We uncovered there are a record number of hydrants city-wide that are out of service right now.

Kansas City firefighters confirmed they did have problems getting water from a hydrant at 26th and Stark in the early morning hours on Saturday.
       
The city's water department said that the faulty hydrant may be one of a record 800 non-working fire
hydrants across the city.

41 Action News' Amy Hawley said to Jim Mellem, assistant director of the water department, "When I hear that - to be devil's advocate - I worry about the fire hydrant in front of my house."

Mellem responded, "I do, too, and no one wants to have a hydrant in front of their house that's inoperable."

Mellem explained the city is backlogged because the aging water system from water mains to valves to hydrants all need repair.
         
The water department said a faulty hydrant should only take days to repair so a loss like Priest's is prevented.
         
41 Action News found out that is not the case.

"So how long has it been since some hydrants have been out of order .. weeks, months, years?"
Mellem said. "Possibly a year, yeah."

The fire department is supposed to check all 23,000 hydrants every year.
        
But between a lack of time, lack of enough money and a failing water infrastructure, the water department said it cannot keep up with the city's faulty hydrant backlog.
        
In May, the water department will start charging the average customer $9 more a month.

They hope that extra money will speed up the repairs.

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