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Action News uncovers hundreds of faulty fire hydrants across Jacksonville

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Updated: 10/28/2013 11:43 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Action News is getting answers after firefighters were forced to resort to plan B because the closest hydrant wasn't working.

Saturday's fire ripped through a Southside home on Kelsey Island Drive, burning it down to its foundation and nearly everything inside.

When JFRD arrived, the fire wasn't the only obstacle to overcome.

A valve on the nearest fire hydrant, located just a few houses down, was turned off, according to JEA. JFRD crews had to run a hose from a hydrant located on the other side of the block.

Many neighbors are now worried about the safety of their own homes.

"It kind of gave me a knot in my stomach when I saw that," said Mike Russell.

JEA crews didn't waste time Monday making sure the dozens of other hydrants in the Southside neighborhood are operational. Action News saw multiple JEA trucks out performing tests.

Action News obtained documents from JEA detailing hundreds of faulty fire hydrants located in just about every neighborhood across the city of Jacksonville.

We found 534 are deemed deficient -- and that's just the ones JEA knows about.

Tom Francis with JFRD said there are some communities in Mandarin and the Northside without any hydrants at all.

"When we know historically that there is a geographic area of town that does not have hydrants, we have tankers that are strategically positioned to provide that particular source," said Francis.

As a displaced family prepares to rebuild, JEA has a plenty of work ahead to ensure the long list of faulty hydrants gets fixed before the next emergency strikes.

JFRD is responsible for checking each hydrant annually; if a problem is discovered, the department passes it on to JEA for repairs.

"We would be a very ineffective fire department if we relied exclusively on hydrants in order to get the job done, which is why we show up routinely at every event with hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water ready to do what needs to be done," said Francis.

Francis said the first engine arrived within eight minutes of the call, but he doesn't think the dried-up hydrant affected the outcome.

"This particular structure was fully involved, to the extent where it could have been surrounded with hydrants (and) it wouldn't have made a difference," said Francis. "There really wasn't too much that could've been done."

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