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Fire chief wants to see law banning use of fake hydrants

June 09, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - That fire hydrant you see along the road might not be real.

Jefferson County officials said Thursday that some people have been putting fake fire hydrants on their properties in an attempt to get lower fire insurance rates.

Ed Smith, chief of the Independent Fire Co. in Ranson, W.Va., said he knows of about four fake hydrants in the county.

Smith said some people put the hydrants in their yards for decoration while others openly admit they do it in hopes of getting lower fire insurance rates.

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Homeowners can get lower fire insurance rates if their house is within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant, Smith said.

Saying it presents a serious problem, Smith said he wants to see county officials pass a law banning use of the fake hydrants.

"They look so legitimate that fire departments can roll-up to them thinking they are real," Barbara Miller, a homeland security coordinator, told the Jefferson County Commission.

Smith said that can happen if a department from another county helps to fight a local blaze.

Smith said he knows of one fake hydrant on Job Corps Road. Smith said he is not sure where people are obtaining the hydrants. City governments sometimes have surplus equipment they do not need, but Smith said he is not sure if that is a possible source.

Ross Morgan, chief of the Shepherdstown Fire Department, said he is not surprised people are putting fake hydrants on their property, although he has not witnessed such a situation.

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