Followup: Where West Seattle’s low-flow hydrants are

May 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

Following up on the Seattle Public Utilities announcement published here last night regarding work starting today to place reflective red rings on the city’s 70 remaining low-flow hydrants, so firefighters can make fast decisions when arriving at fire scenes – we now have the map and list of locations from SPU. What you see above is the West Seattle section of the map; click it to get a PDF of the full-size citywide map. And if you see one you want to know more about, click here for the PDF list of exact addresses. We count 28 served by West Seattle fire engines (note the E37, E32, and E29 designations). Three are listed as being in the unincorporated North Highline area just south of West Seattle, and one is in the area served by South Park’s Engine 26. SPU says it expects to have all of the low-flow hydrants – which, it stresses, are fully operational, but just deliver less than 500 gallons per minute – marked by the end of the month.

19 Comments

  1. It’s interesting how the majority of the low flow hydrants are in Arbor Heights.

    Comment by West Seattle Mom — 5:05 pm May 20, 2013 #

  2. Especially since Arbor Heights is furthest from a fire station

    Comment by Jo — 5:18 pm May 20, 2013 #

  3. I live on the same block as the house that burnt to the ground. What did the city do when they tore the streets up? We were assured that the repairs would fix the pressure. I would have expected to have pressure more in line with the rest of the city. This clearly was not what the city led us to believe would be done. Mayor McGinn should be ashamed.

    Comment by ra — 5:27 pm May 20, 2013 #

  4. Here’s the deal about Arbor Heights:
    .
    The water problem was a holdover from its annexation decades ago. According to the city, other areas of town that wanted to upgrade services such as water and sidewalks voted for levies to raise the money. Arbor Heights turned such levies down twice. After the 2011 fire, they designed an upgrade project – hydrants and some stretches of water main – so that after it was done, EVERY property in Arbor Heights would be within 1,000 feet of a hydrant with a “fire flow” of at least a thousand gallons a minute. This was explained at the meeting last year before the major work on the upgrade project:
    .
    http://westseattleblog.com/2012/02/arbor-heights-water-main-improvements-to-start-soon
    .
    In addition to meeting that baseline, 87 percent of Arbor Heights would be within 500 feet of such a hydrant, city officials said at an earlier briefing we also covered:
    .
    http://westseattleblog.com/2011/12/happening-now-arbor-heights-fire-briefing-city-hall
    .
    So while some low-flow hydrants remain, even if you are close to one of them, you also are supposedly close enough to bigger water mains/hydrants to meet firefighting standards if, heaven forbid, a fire happens.

    Comment by WSB — 6:05 pm May 20, 2013 #

  5. Walking around my neighborhood here in Arbor heights, the nearest high flow hydrant is nearly two blocks away. That makes me quite uncomfortable. On top of that, Metro is dropping us from bus service in 2014. I pay high taxes and don’t get the services other parts of Seattle gets. I didn’t live here when tax levies for this area were voted on, so I don’t like being punished today.

    Comment by Michael Waldo — 6:25 pm May 20, 2013 #

  6. So the low flow may be closer, but it’s not all there is. That’s reassuring.

    Comment by Chris W — 6:37 pm May 20, 2013 #

  7. 1000 feet is a bit more than three city blocks (three blocks is 3/16 of a mile), in case that helps visualize the distance to a normal-flow hydrant in that area.

    But such distant hydrants have another drawback besides the obvious ones. From ISO.com:

    “Hydrants within 300 feet of the subject building may receive credit for up to 1,000 gpm (but not more than the credit that would apply based on the number and type of outlets). Hydrants from 301 feet to 600 feet from the subject building may receive credit for up to 670 gpm (but not more than the credit that would apply based on the number and type of outlets). And hydrants from 601 feet to 1,000 feet from the subject building receive credit for 250 gpm. Under certain circumstances, when all fire department pumpers carry sufficient large-diameter hose, ISO may allow maximum credit for hydrants up to 1,000 feet from the subject building.”

    In other words, the effective water delivery from a faraway hydrant drops a great deal in a very lengthy hose run, especially without larger diameter hose and suitable pumping. Normally, a 1000 foot hose can’t deliver nearly the same water flow as a short hose on a nearby hydrant.

    Even if a 1000 gpm hydrant is available 1000 feet away, that doesn’t necessarily mean that anything close to 1000 gpm can be delivered at that distance. As above, in many cases it can be considered roughly equivalent to a 250 gpm hydrant right next to the house.

    Comment by Rod Clark — 7:47 pm May 20, 2013 #

  8. @Michael Waldo:
    -
    If the City of Seattle hadn’t annexed Arbor Heights, your property value would be lower, and you’d have the same water pressure as nearby King County residents. Yet Arbor Heights residents voted against levies for such improvements? Despite that the City of Seattle subsequently ensured you are close enough (500 feet) to a high flow hydrant despite the neighborhood veto previously of such.
    -
    So who are you mad at? The City has nothing to do with Metro bus service. I am wondering since being part of the City of Seattle would seem to be a net positive for your property which should be reflected in your property values.

    Comment by JayDee — 8:01 pm May 20, 2013 #

  9. Is there any reason Arbor Heights residents couldnt vote on another levy (or a LID) to perform the needed improvements? Seems like a good time to do it.

    Comment by Rumbles — 4:30 am May 21, 2013 #

  10. This is similar to neighborhoods that don’t have sidewalks wanting the city to build sidewalks for them. The homeowners chose to not pay for sidewalks and lowered their cost of ownership. That savings should be reflected in subsequent prices paid for those homes so if you want sidewalks now, use those savings to pay for them.

    Comment by Kneering — 5:14 am May 21, 2013 #

  11. SPU has been aware of the badly tuberculated pipe in various areas of Seattle for years and are choosing to simply identify them now in lieu of actually fixing the water mains.

    Don’t be surprised if your property insurance rates increase as the insurance industry begins to realize the high risk of fire loss in Seattle due to poor fire flow.

    And in the event of significant fires losses due to poor fire flow you can also expect your tax dollars to settle subrogration from the insurances company losses.

    Comment by rico — 6:08 am May 21, 2013 #

  12. When did they vote for improvements in Arbor Heights? I don’t live in AH but drive through there frequently and I feel it is unsafe to walk. People walking in the middle of the road, etc. Just curious when it was voted on.

    Comment by Bonnie — 8:29 am May 21, 2013 #

  13. Rumbles is exactly right. Waldo, form a Local Improvement District, issue bonds and pay for your services, or move to an area that Paid for those services.

    Comment by Mike — 9:39 am May 21, 2013 #

  14. HYDRANT 10234 CALIFORNIA AVE SW – E37
    HYDRANT 10234 42ND AVE SW – E37
    HYDRANT 10232 41ST AVE SW – E37
    HYDRANT 10234 40TH AVE SW – E37

    Isn’t 102nd St where they dug up the road to repair this problem? Why would there still be low pressure hydrants on that street?

    Comment by mpento — 9:48 am May 21, 2013 #

  15. So for the snarky comments about “moving to an area that paid for services”, everything I’ve read says that Arbor Heights was annexed in the late 1950s. Is that true? And if that is, when was the last improvement levy proposed? How many years? There are many of us who bought houses and live in this neighborhood who didn’t have a chance to weigh in on safety and infrastructure.

    Comment by JO — 10:04 am May 21, 2013 #

  16. You might want to fish around city records for all that – I put in Arbor Heights and annexation and found
    .
    http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~scripts/nph-brs.exe?s1=annexation&S2=%28%40dtir%3E19500000%3C19600000%29+OR+%28%40DTA%3E19500000%3C19600000%29+OR+%28%40DTS%3E19500000%3C19600000%29+OR+%28%40DTSI%3E19500000%3C19600000%29+OR++%28%40DTMY%3E19500000%3C19600000%29+OR+%28%40DATE%3E19500000%3C19600000%29+OR+%28%40dtf%3E19500000%3C19600000%29&S3=%28ARBOR-HEIGHTS.INDX.%29+OR+%28ARBOR-HEIGHTS.SUB.%29&Sect4=AND&l=MAX&Sect1=IMAGE&Sect2=THESON&Sect3=PLURON&Sect5=LEGA2&Sect6=HITOFF&d=LEGA&p=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fclerk.seattle.gov%2F~public%2Flegisearch.htm&r=0&f=S
    .
    for the years 1950-1959 – that brings up a list of ordinances and it appears at least a few have to do with annexation. Arbor Heights appears to have been annexed in sections.
    .
    I can’t find the records on the LIDs. I suggest this all – including the prospect of a future local improvement district – might be something worth bringing up at a future meeting of the new Westwood Roxhill Arbor Heights Community Council – http://wwrhah.org
    .
    TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:31 am May 21, 2013 #

  17. Thanks, TR, for the info. We bought a house in AH in 2004, and were never aware of previous levies that were voted down. But, I would be happy to vote for improved infrastructure if it came up to a vote now. I know on our street, a lot of the original home owners from the 1950′s (who were there when we first moved in) have either passed away or moved out. There is a new population of people on our street, anyway, that would probably be in favor of supporting improvements. (And I think that might be the case in the entire AH neighborhood, also) So, please, for all folks who are being snarky towards AH residents living in an area which voted down improvements- please know that a lot of us living in AH NOW are a “new generation” that were never given the opportunity to choose and would be in favor of such a levy if it were offered (and BTW it was never revealed in my home inspection documents or real estate documents that our home was in an area with inadequate fire hydrant infrastructure when we purchased it).

    Comment by ACG — 1:35 pm May 21, 2013 #

  18. I guess I don’t understand how it all works. So, I live in Fauntleroy (kid goes to school in AH, that is why I am in the area often) so do our taxes go only toward our area of Fauntleroy?? For some reason I don’t think they do. Do the neighborhoods pay for their own services? I guess I’m confused.

    Comment by Bonnie — 2:22 pm May 21, 2013 #

  19. I don’t think the AH incorporation/levy issue is even relevant to this.

    The same problems exist in other parts of the city.

    Old water mains that were not lined with cement on the inside is the issue. Unlined pipe is highly prone to tuberculation.

    SPU should fix this problem w/o any special levies in my opinion. This is basic infrastructure maintenance period.

    Unfortunately SPU is not very good about infrastructure maintenance.

    Comment by rico — 2:52 pm May 21, 2013 #

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