Non-stop water could impact fire calls

Fond du Lac gives out water instructions
Fond du Lac gives out water instructions

FOND DU LAC - Dozens of communities have residents running water non-stop, but it could potentially have a dangerous effect.

The concern level is low right now for most communities, but as more people are being told to run their water non-stop, it could become an issue for fire departments.

Troy Haase, with the Fond du Lac Fire Department, can't remember ever having to be concerned about frigid temperatures impacting water volume.

“Last fire we did have an issue when we took too much volume or pressure out of the line and the line collapsed,” said Haase.

That fire was a month ago, before Fond du Lac issued water use instructions for its residents. Almost 600 residents are now being asked to run their water non-stop. The rest are being told to run their water three times a day, for at least five minutes each time.

Haase says as more residents are being asked to go non-stop, concern will grow for when his department is called to a fire.

“Right now the risk is low, but with the temperatures it depends on what happens,” said Haase.

“At this point we're pretty comfortable with what we're asking our customers to do,” said Jordan Skiff, the director of public works for Fond du Lac.

City officials say they have the ability to pump out more water if needed. But they do no warn, these water instructions could last for weeks, if not months.

“Frost in the ground is something that's hard to predict, but we do know just because it gets warmer in the air temperature, that doesn't mean that frost is coming out of the ground, that the ground is warming up and this threat of frozen pipes is no longer there,” said Skiff.

Even though the added water usage could take away from volume, officials say it is more important to keep the pipes from freezing, especially, if your neighborhood does have a fire.

“A lot of times what we'll do is we'll try to find hydrants on different grids, so we'll get different flows from different areas, so we'll just have to concentrate more on where we're getting the water from,” said Haase.

The risk varies depending on frost depths and the community's water system.