Drought could affect Cape fire hydrants

Posted at 6:46 PM, Apr 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-18 18:46:04-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- With canal levels sinking in Cape Coral because of a drought, the fire department says fire response could be affected if conditions get worse.

More than 800 purple fire hydrants in Cape Coral use water in the canal system. In North Cape Coral, there aren't any fire hydrants in certain areas, where crews pump water directly from canals. However, with an ongoing drought, canals are slowly dying up. Water needs to be at a certain level to provide enough pressure to pump from a fire hydrant. "It's an area that we are now at a critical point. If that water goes too low, we won't be able to connect to those fire hydrants that use canal water," said Cape Division Fire Chief Ryan Lamb.

Chief Lamb told Fox 4 during an interview, precious time could be lost connecting to an alternative water supply if fire hydrants aren't an option. "Every 30 seconds, a fire doubles in size, so that's a very critical time frame if you have somebody still inside a structure."

Residents can help prevent this by following the city-mandated one-day-a-week watering schedule. Chief Lamb called the situation a catch-22; If people don't water, their lawns could get dryer, increasing fire risk. He suggested helping in that area as well. "While we're encouraging folks to limit watering, we're also encouraging them to cut back brush and keep a 30-foot buffer around their property," he said. 

To find out your watering schedule, click here.