Dry hydrant intended to help provide water for Cascadia fires

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District has installed a “dry” hydrant in Cascadia to serve as the primary fire suppression water source for structure fires as well as wildfires east of Sweet Home.

Until now, the district has not had an adequate and reliable water supply in that area.

The system is capable of supplying fire engines with 800 gallons per minute from a 150,000-gallon pond.

Previously, the district had to resort to using a private hydrant only capable of filling one tender. After that, tenders had to return to the city to refill.

The closest city hydrant provides 650 gallons per minute and requires water tenders to complete a 45-minute round trip from Cascadia to Sweet Home and back.

The new hydrant is nine miles closer, in the 47600 block of Highway 20, about a quarter mile from High Deck Road. Installation was completed May 11.

“It’s basically a pip into a 12-foot-deep pond,” said Fire Chief Dave Barringer, with a 6-inch connection to fire engine station there.

“All we’ve got to do is drive up, hook up, open the valve and fill up,” he said. During a fire, the district will put an engine there to fill the tenders.

A 3,000-gallon tender is empty in 15 minutes at 200 gallons per minute, said Battalion Chief Eli Harris. A 1,500-square-foot structure that is 25 percent involved will create a train of tenders shuttling water from the city to the fire, and firefighters run the risk of not having enough water to maintain a flow.

This is something that would have helped on the fire that destroyed the former Cascadia School and the Cascadia Post Office in 2011, Harris said.

A rural fire can draw down resources across the county as other departments respond in order to get enough tenders shuttling water, Barringer said.

These hydrants decrease safety issues with running the biggest and heaviest vehicles up and down the roadway, Barringer said, and it helps maintain constant flows on fires.

The district is planning to add another dry hydrant on Courtney Creek when the water is low enough, Barringer said. It already has similar structures on the Upper Calapooia and off Crawfordsville Drive on the Calapooia River. Another is located on Brush Creek close to the county line in cooperation with the Mohawk Valley Fire District.