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Fire department wants plan

 MONTOUR FALLS—The loss of a house during a fire last Wednesday has prompted the Montour Falls Fire Department to ask the village for a plan of action.
Jim Ryan, fire chief, spoke during the public comment portion of Monday’s Montour Falls village board. He said he was not pointing fingers at anyone, but the water pipes are a problem. The house burned down because a fire hydrant failed to work. He wanted to give the board his input on the situation.
The fire took place at 8 a.m. on Falls View Drive. No one was killed; the man, his daughter and dog all escaped, but the house was lost. Ryan described how they had several fire departments there, including Watkins Glen and Odessa, and a full engine crew before anyone else even showed up.
He said that when he saw the fire had consumed to much of the building he pulled his men out. That was when he knew the house was lost.
“I’m not sure where the problem is,” said Ryan. The reason for the poor water flow could be in a number of areas; pumps, distribution, etc., and that is why he wants a plan.
Ryan said he wanted the board to have a plan on how to proceed with the village water pipes. One thing he wants to see done is to have the tops of the fire hydrants color coded for their water pressure. The practice is standard for the National Fire Protection Association. The hydrants themselves would need to be completely repainted because orange is on the color scale.
“It might be to our advantage to hire a contractor for the flow tests,” said Ryan.
With the hydrants color coded, the fire department would know when they got to a scene how many gallons of water per minute they would get from the hydrant before hooking up.
“We can’t let people’s homes burn,” said Mayor Donna Kelley. She added, “It’s on the agenda.”
One of the ongoing discussions about the best and cheapest way to upgrade the village’s water pipes has been with a county water district. However, such a district could be years off. Kelley said that while the district is a good idea, they should continue to work at fixing the pipe problems they have until then.
Rural Water finished their evaluation of Montour Falls’ water pipes and found that there were no leaks in the line. Kelley said it was their guess that the 40 percent loss in water could be in the older water meters, the tank on Skyline or the Shepherd Niles facility.
The board met with Rural Water again the day after the meeting.
In other business:
• The board agreed that because of the current economic condition of the country and state, they would put a freeze on any unnecessary spending.
• Two representatives from the Finger Lakes Mining Company in Ithaca said that they were planning a marathon in August of 2009 and wanted permission to have the course go through the village so the runners can get back on the Catharine Trail. Kelley said she did not have a problem with it as long as they worked with the fire department for safety.
• The Department of Public Works will not change to winter hours just yet because they have been able to get a lot of work done with the weather as it is. Once the weather turns they will start operating under the winter hours.
• The board authorized equipment to be auctioned off by the county. They also won the bids on two pieces of equipment from the county.
• The board agreed to continue paying the recycling contract even though the price per ton they has increased to $24. Board member Phil Smith said they do not have a choice but to agree with the increase.
• The next board meeting will be Jan. 5 at 7 p.m.

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