Friday - December 22, 2017 2:04 am

Fire chief on board with La Crosse's new rules on hydrant use

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La Crosse's fire chief supports new rules on the city's fire hydrant use. Chief Ken Gilliam relies on the water utility to maintain hydrants in La Crosse.

So, he's not opposed to new rules that could lead to tickets for unauthorized use or damage to hydrants by those other than firefighters — especially with some use in the winter leading to frozen hydrants that can't be used in an emergency.

Hydrants are frequently used by contractors in the city on building sites. La Crosse apparently is highly unusual in allowing the practice. Damage to a hydrant can cost the city up to $3,000.

Gilliam said there should be an expectation the city's water utility restricts and charges for use of hydrants.

If a nearby house is on fire and a hydrant is damaged, "you're relying a lot of things for a lot of people," Gilliam said.

The rules could lead to limits on how skating rinks are flooded in the winter using hydrant water. Gilliam said the simple way to avoid penalties, along with potential damage and cost of repairs is to have the right people use the hydrant.

"If you need to flood a skating rink, call the water department," Gilliam said. "They'll come out and do the right tools."

The rules could also apply when departments from surrounding towns use the hydrants without permission for training.

Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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