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O’Fallon residents raise more concern over nonfunctioning fire hydrants

O’FALLON, MO – There are more concerns about fire hydrants in O’Fallon, Missouri after a deadly fire there this week.

There are residents complaining about hydrants not working.

Most people drive-by and take them for granted, assuming they’ll work in an emergency, but not on Lauren Kalhorn’s block of Autumn Hill Drive.

“The fire hydrant been out since probably the last week of April,” Kalhorn said.

O’Fallon workers fixed it Wednesday morning.

“I think a lot of attention was drawn to it.  They finally decided it was time to do something about it,” Kalhorn said.

That attention was drawn about 3 miles away early Monday morning, where a woman in her 60’s died in a house fire on Country Life drive.  Neither of the two closest hydrants were working properly.

It was not a factor and firefighters had more than enough water on their trucks to put out the fire, said Chief Tom Vineyard of the O’Fallon Fire Protection District.

Still, concerns about hydrants in O’Fallon have become top of mind for residents.

Firefighters inspect the fire protection district’s 3,045 hydrants every year, the chief said.

The hydrants are maintained by 3 different water districts, 1,655 of the hydrants by the City of O’Fallon.

“We have had 2 really bad fires that have burned houses to the ground in our neighborhood, we’ve already been kind of concerned with issues,” Kalhorn said.

There are redundancies built throughout the entire system so there’s always a way to get water to a particular home,” said City of O’Fallon spokesman, Tom Drabelle.  “If we have 5 hydrants in the area that can service this one particular spot and one of those 5 is not working, it’s probably going to be a lower priority…if one hydrant is a key hydrant for a large area, without that hydrant working they can’t cover a large number of homes, that’s going to be a high priority.  We’re basically going to drop everything and go out and get that one fixed.”

The hydrant on Autumn Hill repaired Wednesday was fixed in conjunction with repairs from a recent water main break, he said.

The two near the Country Life Drive fire scene are now on the list for repairs, awaiting the completion of the fire investigation.

This year's hydrant testing showed just 3 of the 1,655 hydrants maintained by the City of O’Fallon were in need of repair, Drabelle said.