A closer look at damaged fire hydrants, repair efforts in Wilmington

Fire hydrants can be crucial during an emergency. Wilmington Firefighter Sean Weber says hydrants are key to putting out flames.
Published: Oct. 11, 2023 at 5:53 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2023 at 6:23 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Fire hydrants can be crucial during an emergency. Wilmington Firefighter Sean Weber says hydrants are key to putting out flames.

“When we get on scene, the first thing we want to do is start flowing water into the fire,” said Weber. “But then, the second thing we need to do is connect to a hydrant because once we connect to a hydrant, we have an unlimited water supply.”

The Wilmington Fire Department inspects every one of the city’s 6,157 fire hydrants each year. According to data from Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, just 25 of those hydrants (less than 1%) are currently in need of repair, and just seven are out of service.

“The amount of time it takes to respond to a work order can vary a little bit,” said CFPUA Public Information Officer Cammie Bellamy. “Many we’ll complete in just a day or two. If one is more complex, say there’s damage to the valve underground or damage to the waterline itself, it may require a larger replacement, so it could be a couple of weeks.”

Bellamy says it is up to the utility company to repair broken hydrants, but WECT wanted to find out how hydrants are damaged, and if any hydrants are more prone to damage than others.

“I would say there aren’t particularly hotspots for hydrant outages or hydrant repairs in our area,” said Bellamy. “But if there were to be, you could make an argument that high traffic corridors, such as the long roads like, obviously, we have a couple out on College Road right now from car accidents.”

A list of damaged fire hydrants shows that more than half are along busy roads including South College Road, Market Street, and South 17th Street.

Other issues like landscaping and tree roots can damage hydrants as well, but Bellamy says recent numbers from the American Water Works Association show CFPUA ranks highly for maintaining hydrants.

Bellamy says repairs are prioritized when there is not another working hydrant nearby because of how critical they are to first responders like Weber.

“Fire hydrants are one of the most important things during fire operations,” said Weber.

Here is a list of damaged fire hydrants in Wilmington as of Oct. 11, 2023. An asterisks (*) denotes that the hydrant is out of service.

1. 2130 South17th Street.*

2. 5220 Oleander Drive.

3. 225 Braxlo Lane.

4. 1307 Market Street.*

5. South College Road and Longleaf shopping center, NW corner.

6. 475 Airlie Road.

7. 6209 North Bradley Overlook.

8. 25 Jackson Drive.

9. 802 South College Road.

10. 6201 Market Street.

11. 1315 Dawson Street.

12. 3240 Burnt Mill Road.

13. 5353 Mulberry Avenue.

14. 1001 Sir Tyler Drive.*

15. 2313 Wrightsville Avenue.

16. 2600 block of South 17th Street.*

17. 318 South College Road.

18. 322 South College Road.

19. 307 Marlboro Street.

20. 3757 Shipyard Boulevard.

21. 6030 Market Place.*

22. Independence Boulevard and Shipyard Boulevard.

23. 7026 Cayman Court.

24. 2540 Troy Drive.*

25. South College Road and Cedar Avenue.*